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American Samoa


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American Samoa

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa). The main (largest and most populous) island is Tutuila, with the Manuʻa Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island also included in the territory.
American Samoa is part of the Samoan Islands chain, located west of the Cook Islands, north of Tonga, and some 300 miles (500 km) south of Tokelau. To the west are the islands of the Wallis and Futuna group. The 2010 census showed a total population of 55,519 people. The total land area is 76.1 square miles (197.1 km2), slightly more than Washington, D.C. American Samoa is the southernmost territory of the United States.



History of American Samoa

Originally inhabited as early as 850 AD, Samoa was not reached by European explorers until the 18th century. By the 20th and 21st century, the islands were incorporated into Samoa (Western Samoa, Independent Samoa) and American Samoa (Eastern Samoa).

Early occupation by Polynesian people

The pre-Western history of Eastern Samoa (now American Samoa) is inextricably bound with the history of Western Samoa (now independent Samoa).
The islands of Tutuila and Aunu'u were politically connected to 'Upolu island in what is now independent Samoa. It can be said that all the Samoa islands are politically connected today through the faamatai chiefly system and through family connections that are as strong as ever. This system of the faamatai and the customs of faasamoa originated with two of the most famous early chiefs of Samoa, who were both women and related, Nafanua and Salamasina.

Initial European discovery

Early Western contact included a battle in the 18th century between French explorers and islanders in Tutuila, for which the Samoans were blamed in the West, giving them a reputation for ferocity. Early 19th century Rarotongan missionaries to the Samoa islands were followed by a group of Western missionaries led by John Williams (missionary) of the (Congregationalist) London Missionary Society in the 1830s, officially bringing Christianity to Samoa. Less than a hundred years later, the Samoan Congregationalist Church became the first independent indigenous church of the South Pacific.


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Division of the Samoan archipelago

International rivalries in the later half of the 19th century were settled by an 1899 Treaty of Berlin in which Germany and the U.S. divided the Samoan archipelago. The U.S. formally occupied its portion—a smaller group of eastern islands with the noted harbor of Pago Pago—the following year. The western islands are now the independent state of Samoa.


american somao

Politics of American Samoa

Politics of American Samoa takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior. Its constitution was ratified 1966 and came into effect 1967. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The party system is a copy of the United States party system. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
There is also the traditional village politics of the Samoa Islands, the "faamatai" and the "faasamoa", which continues in American Samoa and in independent Samoa, and which interacts across these current boundaries. The Fa'asamoa is the language and customs, and the Fa'amatai the protocols of the "fono" (council) and the chiefly system. The Fa'amatai and the Fono take place at all levels of the Samoan body politic, from the family, to the village, to the region, to national matters. The "matai" (chiefs) are elected by consensus within the fono of the extended family and village(s) concerned. The matai and the fono (which is itself made of matai) decide on distribution of family exchanges and tenancy of communal lands. The majority of lands in American Samoa and independent Samoa are communal. A matai can represent a small family group or a great extended family that reaches across islands, and to both American Samoa and independent Samoa.

Geography of American Samoa

American Samoa, located within the geographical region of Oceania, is one of only two possessions of the United States in the Southern Hemisphere, the other being Jarvis Island. Its total land area is 76.8 square miles (199 km2) -- slightly larger than Washington, D.C. -- consisting of five rugged, volcanic islands and two coral atolls. The five volcanic islands islands are: Tutuila, Aunu'u, Ofu, Olosega, Tau. The coral atolls are: Swains, and Rose Atoll. Of the seven islands, Rose Atoll is an uninhabited Marine National Monument.
Due to its positioning in the South Pacific Ocean, it is frequently hit by typhoons between December and March. Rose Atoll is the easternmost point of the territory. American Samoa is the southernmost part of the United States. American Samoa is home to the National Park of American Samoa.

Demographics of American Samoa

The population of American Samoa stands at about 55,519 people, 95% of whom live on the largest island, Tutuila.
Of the population, 91.6 percent are native Samoans, 2.8% are Asian, 1.1% are Caucasian, 4.2% are Mixed, and 0.3% are of other origin. Samoan, a language closely related to Hawaiian and other Polynesian languages, is spoken by 90.6 percent of the people, while 2.9% speak English, 2.4% speak Tongan, 2.1% speak other languages, and 2% speak other Pacific islander languages, with most people being bilingual. American Samoa is largely Christian (50% Christian Congregationalist, 20% Roman Catholic, 30% Protestant and other).
American Samoa is small enough to have just one ZIP code, 96799, and uses the U.S. Postal Service (state code "AS") for mail delivery. The island contains 23 primary schools and six secondary schools, all of which are operated by the American Samoa Department of Education. American Samoa Community College, founded in 1970, provides post-secondary education on the islands.

Religion

According to the World Christian Database, the population of American Samoa is 98.3% Christian, 0.7% agnostic, 0.3% Chinese Universalist, 0.3% Buddhist and 0.3% Baha'i.
As of 2010, the CIA Factbook showed the religious affiliations of American Samoa as Christian Congregationalist 50%, Roman Catholic 20%, Protestant and other 30%.
As of 2010, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website reports membership in 1990 was 7,500, increasing to about 12,000 in 1994, which is about one in four American Samoans.

 

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