world map

Samoa

By car to the centre of the Pacific

date of entry 29/11/2011
mileage 777,428

capital Apia

area 2.842 km²

population 193.000

GDP 612 M. US-Dollar

official language Samoan/English

Samoa is very close to the International Date Line, which means it is on the other side of the world from Germany. Despite this, the country was a German colony for a brief period. There are still many traces of the colonial era on the two main islands. Otherwise life there follows its own peaceful path, typical of the South Pacific. Otto travelled across both islands and received a particularly warm welcome in the villages on the more remote island of Savai’i.
  • Magnificent flowers grow in the rich volcanic soil. These include the national flower Alpina purpurata, known as "teuila" by the Samoans.
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  • A little piece of paradise: the island state of Samoa in the South Pacific consists of a total of ten islands. The majority of them are of volcanic origin, while the smaller ones grew up on coral reefs.
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  • The two main islands Savai’i and Upolu, the latter being where the capital Apia is located, were part of the colony of German Samoa until the end of the First World War.
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  • The farmers’ fields are often on the steep slopes of volcanoes. Coconuts, yams and leaves to cover the pit ovens known as umos are carried into the villages on long poles over people’s shoulders.
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  • All aboard: Gunther Holtorf found the Samoans to be friendly, bright people who sometimes even climbed onto Otto’s bonnet.
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  • The island state’s society is based on the three pillars of the Fa’a Samoa (the Samoan way): the aiga (family), the matai (the head of the family) and Christianity, one of the few Western influences to become deeply rooted in the traditional life of the residents.
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  • There are several churches in almost every village.
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  • "Fa’avae I Le Atua Samoa", which means "Samoa is founded on God", appears on the official coat of arms of the island state. Visitors to the highly religious state are asked not to stroll through the streets during evening prayers out of respect for the worshippers.
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  • The English missionary John Williams, who landed on the coast of Savai’i in 1830, brought the Christian faith to the islands.
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  • A clear view: the traditional one-storey houses of Samoa are called "fale" and are built without walls. This makes life much more pleasant in the hot tropical climate. Privacy? Definitely not!
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  • Not only because everyone can look in from outside, but also because there are no dividing walls between the different parts of the house.
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  • The residents told Gunther Holtorf that if they want a little intimacy, they simply hang a couple of curtains between the pillars.
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  • The road runs along the coast by the azure ocean, which means that you can simply park on the beach and jump into the water.
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  • The former German rulers of the country planted huge coconut plantations. Large quantities of coconuts are still grown there.
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  • Ferries connect the two main islands. The journey between Savai’i and Upolu takes just over an hour.
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  • Around two thirds of all the people of Samoa work in agriculture, an industry which is often hard hit by tropical storms. On Savai’i there is also an active volcano, which has engulfed whole villages in the past.
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  • In 1889, a particularly violent cyclone hit the islands and sank the German ships "Eber" and "Adler", which were moored in the harbour of Apia. Many of the crew members drowned. In the same year, the three great powers, Germany, Great Britain and the USA, agreed on the division of Samoa. On 1 March 1900, Western Samoa officially became part of the German empire.
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  • Amazingly, many Samoans look back nostalgically on the island’s colonial past. They were not forced to work, they retained possession of their land and they earned a living from selling their crops.
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  • Video: Samoa – shipwrecks and houses without walls