American Samoa: Background & Geography

Introduction American Samoa
Settled as early as 1000 B.C., Samoa was "discovered" by European explorers in the 18th century. International rivalries in the latter half of the 19th century were settled by an 1899 treaty in which Germany and the US divided the Samoan archipelago. The US formally occupied its portion - a smaller group of eastern islands with the excellent harbor of Pago Pago - the following year.
Geography American Samoa
Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand
Geographic coordinates:
14 20 S, 170 00 W
Map references:
total: 199 sq km
note: includes Rose Island and Swains Island
water: 0 sq km
land: 199 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
116 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical marine, moderated by southeast trade winds; annual rainfall averages about 3 m; rainy season from November to April, dry season from May to October; little seasonal temperature variation
five volcanic islands with rugged peaks and limited coastal plains, two coral atolls (Rose Island, Swains Island)
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Lata 966 m
Natural resources:
pumice, pumicite
Land use:
arable land: 5%
permanent crops: 10%
other: 85% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
typhoons common from December to March
Environment - current issues:
limited natural fresh water resources; the water division of the government has spent substantial funds in the past few years to improve water catchments and pipelines
Geography - note:
Pago Pago has one of the best natural deepwater harbors in the South Pacific Ocean, sheltered by shape from rough seas and protected by peripheral mountains from high winds; strategic location in the South Pacific Ocean

See Also: