Last Updated: Monday, 30 November 2015, 08:01 GMT

World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - American Samoa

Publisher Minority Rights Group International
Publication Date 2007
Cite as Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples - American Samoa, 2007, available at: [accessed 1 December 2015]
Comments In October 2015, MRG revised its World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. For the most part, overview texts were not themselves updated, but the previous 'Current state of minorities and indigenous peoples' rubric was replaced throughout with links to the relevant minority-specific reports, and a 'Resources' section was added. Refworld entries have been updated accordingly.
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


American Samoa is composed of two main high islands of volcanic origin Tutuila and Tau and four much smaller islands, in western Polynesia.


The islands of American Samoa were ceded to the USA in 1900; it was administered by the US Navy until 1951 when it was transferred to the Department of the Interior. The economy is heavily dependent on American finance. Other than in the tuna canneries there is little private- sector employment other than in services.


Main languages: Samoan, English

Main religions: Christianity (Christian Congregational Church 50%, Roman Catholic 20%, CIA WorldFactbook, 2007)

Because of the relatively high wage levels there has been substantial immigration, especially from the neighbouring independent nation of Samoa (but also Tonga), to the extent that locally born American Samoans make up less than 60 per cent of the population. There are also some Asian migrants. American Samoa is something of transit station between various countries and the United States.


American Samoa is an external territory of the USA and is represented in the US House of Representatives by a non-voting delegate. American Samoans are 'US nationals' with unrestricted entry into the mainland USA - where most live - but they are not US citizens.

American Samoa has a bicameral legislative system. The American Samoan legislature has sought greater control over administration and finance, while retaining US protection, subsidies and immigration.


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