Samoans, along with Tongans and Fijians were the superpowers of the Pacific before the arrival of the Europeans and those connections amongst the three nations remain strong, till this day, through each nation’s royal lines.
European whalers and traders started to arrive in the late 1700’s. By far the most important agents of change in Samoa were the western missionaries, converting the people from belief in Gods for the sun, earth, heavens and sea to the one God.
In 1899 after years of civil war, the islands of the Samoan archipelago were divided – the Germans taking the islands to the west and the Americans taking the islands to the east, now known as American Samoa.
After the outbreak of World War I, New Zealand captured Western Samoa from the small German company stationed on the islands and following the end of the war took administrative control on behalf of the United Nations from 1918 until independence on 1st January 1962. Western Samoa became the first Pacific nation to gain Independence.
From 1962 to 1997, the nation was known as Western Samoa, until it dropped the title ‘Western’ from its name to become the Independent State of Samoa.