Capital | Apia
Population | 193,161 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 2944 SQ KM
Official Language |Samoan, English
Holidays | Independence Day Celebration, 1 June (1962); note - 1 January 1962 is the date of independence from the New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship; it is observed in June
Currency | Tala (WST)
Time Zone | UTC -11
Best Time to Visit | May to October, when the weather is perfect and the events calendar is full.
Connecting with the Culture | Spending the night in a 225-year-old banyan tree amid fruit bats and birds on Falealupo Peninsula. Playing a game of kirikiti- a home-grown Samoan version of cricket. Discovering Pulemelei Step Pyramid, Polynesia’s largest and most mysterious ancient monument. Gazing into Olemoe Falls, Samoa’s most beautiful waterfall and tropical pool. Staying at Aggie Grey’s legendary hotel (Aggie was supposedly the model for Bloody Mary in James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific)
Read | Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel, a local author’s first novel about dispossession in modern Samoa.
Listen | to world-renowned Samoan hip hop such as the Boo Ya Tribe and King Kapisi.
Watch | Fa’a Samoa: The Samoan Way, an amusing video portraying everyday life in Samoa.
Eat | a traditional Polynesian feast cooked in an umu (below-the-ground oven).
Drink | kava, the ceremonial drink made from the ground roots of pepper plants.
In a Word | Malo or Talofa-- traditional greetings
Characteristics | Hefty rugby-playing locals; crazed kava ceremonies; palm-fringed beaches; ornate traditional tattoos; volcanoes periodically blowing their tops; Robert Louis Stevenson.
Surprises | The International Dateline makes Samoa the last place on earth to see the sun set and means many travelers arrive the day before they left.