American Samoa History

The history of American Samoa is interesting and quite different to that of the other South Pacific Islands. Evidence shows that people were living on the eastern tip of Tutuila near the present day village of Tula as early as 600BC. Indications suggest they came from the west, possibly via Indonesia, Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga. European discovery occurred in 1722 with Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen; however, he did not land on the islands. The islands of American Samoa were rediscovered in 1761 but escaped official European interest until the 1830s, when the islands suddenly became the focus of both European and American colonists and the history of American Samoa took a very different course.

The Americans took Tutuila because of its valuable harbour at Pago Pago. During the Second World War, the islands and port at Pago Pago became a strategic training and staging area for the United States Marine Corps. The Americans established roads, airstrips, docks and medical facilities. Many Samoans enlisted in the US military, thus cementing the relationship between the two countries. In 1951, the Department of Interior replaced the Navy as the administrator of American Samoa. The island group is now an unincorporated territory of the United States and residents are classified as American Nationals.