The Independent State of Samoa is a peaceful parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations. It has a population of approximately 196,000 and a nominal GDP of USD $824 million. Samoa became the 155th member of the WTO in May 2012 and graduated from least developed country (LDC) status in January 2014.
Samoa is recognized throughout Oceania as one of the most politically and economically stable democratic countries in the region – based on strong social and cultural structures and values. The country has been governed by the Human Rights Protectorate Party (HRPP) since 1982, and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has been in power since 1998.
Samoa is located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. The total land area is 1,097 square miles, consisting of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai’i, which account for 99 percent of the total land area and eight small islets. About 80 percent of all land is customary land, owned by villages, with the remainder either freehold or government owned. Customary land can be leased, but not sold.
Several changes and natural disasters have taken place in Samoa in the past seven years that have shaped the country significantly. Samoa previously drove on the right (U.S.) side of the road, but in September 2009 switched to driving on the left (British) side. Accordingly, all cars now imported are right-hand drive. Also, Samoa was previously located east of the international dateline, but in December 2011 moved to the other side (UTC +13), switching from the last sunset of the world each day to becoming one of the first countries to start each day.
The September 2009 tsunami and the December 2012 cyclone (Evan) each inflicted damage equivalent to a quarter of Samoa’s GDP. Samoa has recovered from effects of the tsunami and the cyclone, but both were significant setbacks to the economy.
In 2019 Samoa suffered a measles epidemic and, in 2020, the shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic. Both instances severely affected local business with varying degrees of cessation of economic activity. The tourism industry was hit particularly hard. Samoa demonstrated that it will take extreme measures to prevent loss of life, even at the expense of massive economic losses. The Central Bank of Samoa predicts the country’s GDP will fall by 6.6 per cent by the end of 2020 in response to international border closures resulting from the global pandemic COVID-19.
The service sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of GDP and employs approximately 50 percent of the formally employed labor force (which is about 20 percent of the population). Tourism is the largest single activity, with visitor numbers and revenue more than doubling over the last decade. Industry accounts for nearly 15 percent of GDP, while employing less than 6 percent of the work force.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2019||N/A||http://www.transparency.org/
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2019||98 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings|
|Global Innovation Index||2019||N/A||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
|U.S. FDI in partner country (millions of U.S. dollars, historical stock positions)||2018||$20M||https://apps.bea.gov/
|World Bank GNI per capita||2018||$4,020||http://data.worldbank.org/