American Samoa (Amelika Sāmoa or Sāmoa Amelika) is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Samoa. American Samoa consists of five main islands and two coral atolls. The largest and most populous island is Tutuila, with the Manuʻa Islands, Rose Atoll, and Swains Island also included in the territory. American Samoa is part of the Samoan Islands chain, located west of the Cook Islands, north of Tonga, and some 300 miles (500 km) south of Tokelau. To the west are the islands of the Wallis and Futuna group.
Pre-World War III
The island became an American territory on April 17, 1900 while Western Samoa became a German territory. American Samoa was mainly used as a stop-over for ships and planes traveling from the Far East to Hawaii.
In World War II, it was not invaded by the Japanese and was used as a training ground for fresh recruits of the United States Marine Corps. During the 1960s, many escape pods from NASA's space shuttle program landed near the coast of American Samoa. Majority of these astronauts were airlifted to Pago Pago airport.
Before the war, American Samoa hosted only a few active military personnel. Many of the American Samoan citizens also enlisted in the armed forces.
World War III
American Samoa was not attacked by Soviet and Chinese naval forces for it can be inferred that the island holds no strategic importance for an invasion. However, should the war have been longer, it was possible that the Soviets would have invaded the island. Because of this, the United States increased their deployment of troops to island. Troops from the Hawaii National Guard, the 3rd Marine Expedition, and the USS Reuben James, USS Lake Chaplain, and the USS Topeka to defend the island. These formed the defense of American Samoa. Occasionally, naval ships and submarines from Australia and New Zealand would join in the defense. As China entered the war, the Reuben James and Topeka were deployed to the Guam to defend it from Chinese attacks. Throughout the remainder of the war, American Samoa remained untouched and was not invaded.
On September 29, 2009, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake struck 120 miles (190 km) off the coast of American Samoa, followed by smaller aftershocks. The nearby islands of Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, and New Zealand were affected as well 22 people were confirmed dead in American Samoa. The United States government responded by sending in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard and the Red Cross. Nearby allies of the United States such as Australia, New Zealand, and Japan sent in a contingent of troops to help in the relief efforts.
In the end of 2011, American Samoa and the Western islands of Samoa no longer share the same timezone, as Samoa chose to skip Friday, December 30, 2011 and skip timezone due to economic reasons.
American Samoa is famous for its untouched beaches, surfing, and diving. The general public consider it the last untouched paradise of the South Pacific Ocean.
American Samoa is a self-governing territory of the United States. It is administered by the Office of Insular Affairs of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The territory has its own constitution adopted on October 17, 1960. The Ratification Act of 1929 was joint resolution of the United States Congress that ratified the Treaty of Cession of Tutuila of 1900 and the Treaty of Cession of Manuʻa of 1904, which ceded the islands of Tutuila and Manuʻa, respectively, to the United States and now form part of American Samoa. As such it is one of the basic Constitutional documents of American Samoa.
The territory has the same culture with Western Samoa. Both Polynesian and American cultures are found in the islands.
In the field of sports, American Samoa are Samoan cricket, baseball, basketball, soccer, American football and volleyball. These sports are a reflection of its German colonial past and its current association with the United States.