Samoa Palm Trees
Samoa was our final country to visit in the world!

If you enjoy learning the differences between countries, you might enjoy our Slovakia vs Slovenia, Iran vs Iraq and Balkans vs Baltics.

The country of Samoa was our final country on our journey to visit every country in the world. We had a truly fantastic time here.

But let’s explain…

What’s the difference between Samoa and American Samoa:

Samoa vs American Samoa – Country vs US Territory

The most important difference between Samoa and American Samoa is the fact that Samoa is an independent country recognised by the United Nations and American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States. 

The citizens of American Samoa are US “nationals” and not US “citizens,” but they are allowed to travel freely between American Samoa and the US mainland. 

Samoa is made up of 2 main islands, Upolu and Savai’i and a few smaller and uninhabited islands.

American Samoa is made up of one main island, Tutuila with a few smaller islands.

Essentially Samoa Archipelago has 3 islands and due to the position of Samoa, it was often also referred to as Western Samoa which it was once called.  

Samoa vs American islands
Samoa vs American Samoa are islands

Samoa vs American Samoa – Where are they located?

Both Samoa and American Samoa are located in the South Pacific and about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean.

Samoa lies approximately 130 km (80 miles) west of American Samoa and you can get from Samoa to American Samoa on direct flights from Apia to Pago Pago with Samoa Airways.

Samoa vs American Samoa on the map

Samoa vs American Samoa – The History

At the end of the 19th century, there was much disagreement between the Germans and Americans over the Samoan archipelago. 

In 1899 the Tripartite Convention was signed, assigning the eastern island group to America (today’s American Samoa) and the western to Germany (today’s Samoa) which was called Western Samoa until 1997 when it was renamed Samoa. 

Only 20 years later Samoa was occupied and later administered by New Zealand. In 1962 Western Samoa became the first Pacific nation of its size to regain its political independence. 

The United Nations allowed American Samoa to join independent Samoa in 1966. American Samoa chose to remain as part of the US, and American Samoa is therefore run by a federally elected governor today.

Samoa vs American Samoa – The Time Difference is Crazy!

One of the most interesting facts about Samoa and American Samoa is the time difference.

Samoa moved across the International Date Line at the end of December 2011 and it is now 24 hours (25 hours in the southern hemisphere summer) ahead of American Samoa. This change was done to bring Samoa’s work week more in line with its trading partners Australia and New Zealand. As American Samoa decided to stay in the same time zone due to the connection with the USA, this offers travellers an amazing opportunity to fly in time.

You could fly from Samoa on Tuesday morning to American Samoa and arrive there on Monday as you’ll lose 24 hours.

Samoa vs American Samoa Date Line
Samoa vs American Samoa – The International Date Line runs between them

Samoa vs American Samoa – The Flags

The flag of Samoa has a red field with a blue canton in the upper left-hand corner. Five white stars on the canton symbolize the Southern Cross constellation.

The flag of American Samoa consists of a red-edged white triangle pointing towards the hoist charged with a bald eagle clutching in its talons two traditional Samoan emblems, a fly whisk (fue) and a war club (uatogi), with dark blue upper and lower triangles.

Samoa vs American Samoa Flags
Samoa vs American Samoa Flags

Samoa vs American Samoa – Rugby vs American Football

Sport is a big deal in Samoa as well as American Samoa, but it’s not the same sport. It’s probably not surprising that the most popular sport in American Samoa is American football.

In Samoa, it’s all about Rugby. I visited Samoa when the Samoan Rugby team made it into the Rugby Final in November 2022 and the entire country was celebrating. Flags of Samoa were everywhere and Samoans were decked out in the colours of Toa Samoa, the national men’s Rugby team.

Australia won the final game on the day, but a huge effort from Team Samoa.

Samoa vs American Samoa Sport
Samoa vs American Samoa – The most popular sport game is not the same

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Samoa vs American Samoa – The language, currency and the capital

The capital of American Samoa is Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango). The capital of Samoa is called Apia (Ah-Pee-Uh). 

The official language of Samoa and American Samoa is Samoan, one of the oldest Polynesian languages as well as English.

The official currency in Samoa is the Samoan Tala. The currency in American Samoa is the American Dollar.

Samoa vs American Samoa Currency
Samoa vs American Samoa currency

Samoa vs American Samoa – Which one should you visit?

The most popular attraction in Samoa is the To Sua Trench. To Sua means giant swimming hole. It is 30 metres deep and you need to climb down a long steep ladder to access it and have a dip. 

As for American Samoa, the number one attraction would be The National Park of American Samoa spanning rain forest, coral reef and beach. 

Overall Samoa receives more tourists each year and it has a lot to offer to visitors. Apia has a fantastic Cultural Centre that hosts traditional dance and singing four times a week where you can also witness traditional tatau (tattoo) and learn more about food preparation in the earth oven.

There are beautiful beaches to see, and amazing marine life such as giant clams and waterfalls.

So my advice when considering Samoa vs American Samoa is to visit Samoa. You can then travel to American Samoa on a day trip from Apia with Samoan Airways.

Samoa vs American Samoa what to see
Samoa vs American Samoa – The main attractions to see

And that’s all for Samoa vs American Samoa. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.

Travel Tips for the Pacific

If you are interested in Pacific Islands you might enjoy reading more about travelling to the Solomon Islands and read our accommodation guide for Solomon Islands for some great options on where to stay.

Don’t miss our post on 10 Awesome Things to Do in Palau, and our list of the Best Things To Do in Tuvalu has you covered if you decide to visit this tiny nation, also one of the least visited countries in the world.

Perhaps our guide on How to Travel to Tonga On a Budget or this Vanuatu Travel Guide has the information you’re searching for if you’re planning to visit these countries. Our food guide on What to Eat in Vanuatu – 5 Amazing Foods You Need To Try has some great tips.

If you’re keen to visit all of the Pacific nations, check out our Ultimate Guide – How to Visit Every Country in the Pacific.