Sunset at Matareva Beach on Upolu, Samoa
Matareva Beach, Upolu

Island Wars

Samoa experienced many years of civil war between its four major aiga, or tribes, from 1870.

This then escalated as land began to be sold to Europeans and three outside countries fought to exert their powers over the islands.

The First Samoan Civil War

The first Samoan Civil War, between 1886 and 1894, was centred around whether Malietoa Laupepa or Mata'afa Iosefo should be king. The German military intervened on numerous occasions, and tensions existed between the Germans and the US, as both wanted to further interests in Samoa.

When Britain entered the fray, a naval standoff between the three ensued, known as the Samoan crisis.

But it was the weather that would have the final say: A tropical cyclone in 1889 destroyed six German and American ships stationed in Apia, and the three countries resolved that Laupepa was to be king.

However, tensions and conflict continued until 1894 when he finally rose to the throne.

The Second Samoan Civil War

When Laupepa died, the second Samoan Civil War broke out in 1898. Germany, the US and UK were again battling for control of the Samoan islands.

The archipelago would eventually be divided between the Germans and Americans in 1899 at the Tripartite Convention. These became known as Western Samoan and American Samoa.

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