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Samoa is a group of islands (formed about 7 million years ago) in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 15 degrees south of the equator and some 8 degrees east of the International Dateline, that is about 1700 miles north east of New Zealand. It is made up of nine islands. The two largest Savai'i and Upolu, account for most of population with only two others, Manono and Apolima, being inhabited. The other five are called Fanuatapu, Namu'a, Nuutele, Nuulua, Nuusafee.
The islands were settled as part of the general settlement of the Pacific by the Polynesian culture. Briefly, at the end of the last century they played a significant part in the colonisation of the Pacific by the western powers.
The islands were originally settled about 1000 BC a date arrived at by the dating of shards of Lapida pottery found at Mulifanua.
By 200 BC Samoa was the center of a flourishing Polynesian community with trade taking place between Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.
In about 1300 AD a group of settlers from Samoa colonised the Tokelau islands, explaining the similarity between the two languages.
Dutchman, Jacob Roggeveen, was the first European to sight the islands, in 1722.
Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, French explorer, named the islands the Navigator Islands in 1768, after encountering Samoans in ocean-going canoes.
In 1787, the French ship La Perouse landed on Tutuila and a shore crew were attacked, leading to the death of 12 people. This event was captured by the French artist Nicholas Ozanne.
John Williams and Charles Barf, two missionaries from the London Missionary Society, arrived at Samoa in 1830 and were responsible for the introduction of Christianity and desctruction of the traditional Samoan religion.
In 1857 J.C. Godeffroy and Son (taken over by German Trading and Plantation Company when their business failed) a German company founded their depot in Apia, a move which lead to Samoa becoming the most popular trading post in the Pacific at that time.
The Treaty of Berlin was signed in 1889, which guaranteed that Samoa would retain political independance under the control of it's own king, who would be advised by the American, British and German consuls.
On December 2 1899 the Tripartite Treaty replaced, Treaty of Berlin and Western Samoa passed into the hands of Germany, whilst America gained what is now called American Samoa.
In 1914 at the outset of the First World War, New Zealand took control of Western Samoa, replacing Germany as it's colonial master's, and retained it when the war ended under a mandate from the League of Nations
A major change in government was made in 1947 when the Samoan Legislative body was altered such that it was composed of a Samoan majority and granted substantial powers.
Western Samoa was the first Polynesian state to gain, indepedance obtaining it from New Zealand in 1962.
In 1970 it became a member of the Commonwealth.
In July 1997 Western Samoa formally adopted the name "Samoa".
The links below take you to a series of engravings that appeared in a British publication depicting certain aspects of a trip to Samoa. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any details pertaining to the travellers, the reason for their visit or the places and people they were visiting in Samoa.
This was a particularly unsettled period in Samoan history coinciding with disputes between Germany, Britain and the US about control of Samoa, and a long running civil war that revolved around who should be the King of Samoa. Europeans were not the target of Samoan agression, but it certainly seems a strange time to go there for a holiday.
- We arrive at a Native Village, and are Received with Curiosity
- We have to Cross a River by means of a Palm Tree Bridge, and Become Objects of Derision to a Young Lady who is Bathing
- Our Guide Sends a Youthful Native up a Palm to fetch us a Green Cocoa Nut
- We Arrive at out Residence. The Natives are Delightfully Friendly
- We Adopt the Native Garmnet
- And thus Clad we go to Visit the Prime Minister
- We are Cordially Received, and are Compelled to Drink the Native Beverage, Kava
- At the Close of our Stay in Samoa we Give a Dance to the Natives. The Prime Minister Unbends still Further
- Leumanu, Chief of Apia & Fantulia, Wife of Leumanu
- Types of Native
- A Village Scene
- The Sasa or Sitting-down Dance
The War of 1893
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the following, gruesome in places, account of the Samoan Civil War in 1893.