Independent Samoa - or Western Samoa as it was called until 1997 - lies in the heart of Polynesia between Tahiti and Fiji. American Samoa is a hundred kilometers to the east.
The two main islands, Upolu and Savaii, are volcanic and lush with verdant rainforests sweeping up the steep slopes from dazzling white coral beaches. The smaller inhabited islands of Manono and Apolima also appear on our Samoa map.
Samoa's capital, Apia, is a laid back South Seas town with churches, trading houses, hotels, and markets lining the harbor. Robert Louis Stevenson lived and died here and is buried on a hilltop overlooking the north coast. The daily news hardly ruffles the tranquility of this sultry tropical scene.
Samoa and American Samoa have strong traditional cultures dating back 3,000 years. Chiefs known as matai still rule in rural areas and most Samoans sleep in open thatched homes called fale.
Many villages have created simple eco resorts along their beaches where visitors can stay in modest comfort as observers of Samoan family life.
Surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and hiking are favorite activities. Some even choose to leave with a Samoan tattoo.
Polynesian Airlines, Polynesian Blue, and Air New Zealand bring travelers to Samoa from most parts of the South Pacific.