From the earliest inhabitants thousands of years ago whose culture continues to shape Samoan life today, to the Europeans who brought with them the Christian church, there are many layers to this Pacific paradise.
Samoa’s earliest arrivals lived for thousands of years before the first official contact with Europeans, in the form of Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen who approached American Samoa’s Manu’a Islands 1722 – although it is said earlier outside contact was made by whalers, pirates and escaped convicts.
More would follow Roggeveen over the next century, and a European population established in Apia. Upolu chiefs retained sovereignty over their people and villages.
European influence would change Samoan life forever, most notably with the arrival of the Christian church by way of the London Missionary Society in 1830. They were followed by Methodist, Catholic and Mormon missionaries. Today, Samoa remains devoutly Christian, and religious activities form a central part of daily life.