ABOUT US / Our Island Community
American Samoa is a US Territory, like Guam and Puerto Rico, located in the South Pacific. There are about 55,000 people living on our group of seven islands, but the vast majority of us reside on Tutuila, whose capital is Pago Pago. Over 90% of us are Samoan or part-Samoan. Most of us speak both English and Samoan. We use US currency, voltage, and the US postal system. Due to the rugged and mountainous interior of Tutuila, most of us reside on its southern coast. Our main road, which also runs along the coast, is narrow and curvy and has a speed limit of only 25 mph!
Although the United States has had a presence in American Samoa for more than 100 years, the Samoan culture is still practiced here. The Fa'a Samoa (Samoan way) holds as its focus strong family ties. These ties are strengthened through faalavelave, a gathering of the extended family network . The purpose of faalavelave is to support family members during times of change: births, deaths, graduations, weddings, title bestowals, etc. The extended family brings gifts of money and ie toga (fine woven mats) to ease the burden of the target family. In return, the target family provides gifts of food, drink, and fabric to thank everyone for coming and to provide sustenance for the trip back home.
By American standards, our standard of living is relatively low. In 2015, our median household income was $22,000 compared to a $52,000 median in the US. Of course, many of us also supplement our incomes with plantation foods which we grow (banana, breadfruit, taro, papaya, etc.). In addition, over 90% of our land is communally owned; most of us live on family land that is never sold or bought. In general, we are quite happy to be a US Territory. We undoubtedly, would struggle without US aid. Just over a third of our labor force is employed by the local government which is mostly funded by the US Federal government. About 15% work in tuna processing plants, another third works for the private sector, and about 9% of the workforce is unemployed. You will find few places that cater to tourists here, but it is an industry which is growing and which has great potential.