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Samoan History
These islands were first settled about 3,000 years ago and are accepted as the heart of the Polynesian culture. Samoa is discovered by the Dutchman Jacob van Roggeveen in 1722 and named by him the Baaumann islands after the captain of one of his ships. In 1768, French navigator Louis de Bougainville sighted Samoa and called them ‘The Navigator Islands’ (Iles des Navigateurs), because of the many Samoans sailing small canoes far from the sight of land.

Natives

The Samoans are pure Polynesians, and according to the traditions of many Polynesian peoples Savaii was the centre of dispersion of the race over the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to New Zealand. Apart from tradition, Samoan is the most archaic of all the Polynesian tongues, and still preserves the organic letter s, which becomes h or disappears in nearly all the other archipelagos.

Thus the term Savaii itself, originally Savaiki, is supposed to have been carried by the Samoan wanderers over the ocean to Tahiti, New Zealand, the Marquesas and Sandwich groups, where it still survives in such variant forms as Havaii, Hawaiki, Havaiki and Hawaii.

In any case, the Samoans are the most perfect type of Polynesians, of a light brown color, splendid physique, and handsome regular features, with an average height of 5 ft. 10 in. Their mental and social standard is high among Pacific peoples; they are simple, honorable, generous and hospitable, but brave fighters. Their idolatry (polytheistic) was unaccompanied by human sacrifice.

The dead were buried, and their spirits believed to travel to a world entered by a pool at the Western, extremity of Savaii. They have becom&mainly Protestants, Catholics or Mormons, but retain many superstitions connected with their native religion. The women and children are well treated. A youth is not regarded as eligible to marry till tattooed from. the hips to the knees.

The principal foods of the Samoans are vegetables, coco-nut, bread-fruit, fish and pork. They are famous as sailors and boat-builders. The Samoan language is soft and liquid in pronunciation, and has been called the Italian of the Pacific. It is difficult to learn thoroughly, owing to its many inflexions and accents, and its being largely a language of idioms.

During the 18th century vast plantations producing copra and cotton were developed for export and Apia became a major commercial centre in the South Pacific. Annexed by Germany from 1899-1914, and then New Zealand from 1914 (after WWI) until independence in 1962, Western Samoa finally gained self government in 1962. The ‘Western was dropped from its name in 1997.