Samoa Recent History
They are part of the hundreds of islands in Polynesia. Some historians believe that the first inhabitants of these islands came from Indonesia long before Christ. Much later, around 500 after Christ, other white populations would come from Peru. These subdued the first and considered them their subjects. And from these the current Polynesians are descended.
They were discovered in 1722 by the Dutchman Roggeveen and in 1768 found by the French navigator Luigi Antonio de Bougainville who called them “islands of the navigators”.
According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Samoa, many missionaries went there who brought and spread Christianity there.
Until the mid-nineteenth century, each island was ruled by a tribal chief, and all together they had only one king.
Then in 1870 European and American arrivals began, with relative penetrations into the interior, and the king of Samoa in 1879 concluded with Germany, Great Britain and the United States, three separate agreements, giving each a port, thus creating a kind of protectorate for each of them. But otherwise everything remained unchanged and the king was always the head of the local leaders.
Ten years later the civil wars began and on June 14, 1889, with the Berlin treaty, the protectorate in the islands was confirmed; however, the establishment of military or naval bases was excluded. The internal struggles, however, continued and on November 14, 1899, with a new treaty, the division of the islands was established so that the eastern part went to the United States, western Germany and Great Britain some islands of the Solomon archipelago and freedom of trade in Samoa was guaranteed for all.
When the First World War broke out, the part of the German protectorate passed to New Zealand, which with its troops had occupied the territory, with regular “mandate” formulated by the League of Nations, in December 1920. And this mandate was confirmed in 1945, when the League of Nations was called the United Nations Organization.
In 1947 the mandate became a trusteeship and New Zealand increasingly allowed the inhabitants to take on government responsibilities. So just in that same year a Legislative Assembly was established and the Council of State.
In 1949 public administration was entrusted to the natives and in 1952 an executive council was founded.
In 1959 a responsible cabinet was established before the Legislative Assembly and finally in 1962 an agreement between Samoan leaders, the government of New Zealand and the United Nations Trusteeship Council, proclaimed the independence of Western Samoa on January 1, while the eastern ones remained administered by a governor, elected by the American Ministry of the Interior.
When Western Samoa was proclaimed independent, a Constitution was promulgated that included a Head of State, elected for life, to exercise executive power, and a Legislative Assembly, consisting of 47 members, elected for three years. Two of them were elected by the Europeans present in the country.
Upon the death of the head of state, his successor would be elected for 5 years by the Legislative Assembly.
The whole state is made up of two main islands: Savaii and Upolu together with some nearby islets.
In November 1976 a census gave a demographic increase of 40% mainly due to an effective health situation that could reduce infant mortality.
As with all the other islands scattered throughout the Pacific, agriculture remains the main resource while industry is almost non-existent.
The trade balance deficit is constant as imports far outweigh exports.
In 1979 the first opposition political party was born, which was called the Party for the Protection of Human Rights and which immediately won the political elections in February 1982. In December of the same year, after some government crisis, he was elected Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana.
The party strengthened more and more and went on to win the 1985 elections, overcoming the Christian Democratic Party, led by Tupuola Efi. But in December, following a crisis, a coalition cabinet had to be formed chaired by Va’Ai Kolone.
The situation remained precarious until the subsequent elections of February 1988 which decreed the return of Tofilau Eti and his party.
The leaders of the various family clans, who were called “Matai”, were the people who most influenced the country’s political and social framework. In 1990 Tofilau Eti attempted to strengthen this political weight of the “Matai” and this also in order to obtain greater consensus in the subsequent elections of 1991. All this provoked the dissent of the opposition which led to a popular referendum with which it was established that all Parliamentary seats would have been assigned by universal suffrage.
The elections of April 1991, highly contested for episodes of corruption and illegality, were again won by the Human Rights Protection Party and Tofilau Eti was re-elected Prime Minister.
In November 1991 Parliament passed a law that extended the term of a legislature to 5 years and 47 seats to 49. In March 1993 a new party was born called the Democratic Party of Samoa, led by Tagiloa Pita.
In the meantime, however, in February 1990 and in December 1991 two frightening cyclones had hit the islands decreeing a strong deterioration of the already weak economy. This, together with the reaffirmation of the privileges of the rulers’ family clans, had contributed greatly to the formation of strong opposition.
And this, in January 1994, after the application by the government of the value added tax, with a consequent increase in both fuel and food prices, staged violent street demonstrations.
The government tried to run for cover and in April 1996 passed a new law that made a clear legal distinction between the exchange of gifts and the practice of exchanging vows.
Government leaders resisted the shocks of the demonstrators and the ruling party, while registering a certain decline in the elections held in the same month of April, maintained its position, always led by Tofilau Eti Alesana. He, then, and only for health reasons, at the end of 1998 resigned and was replaced by Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, of his own party.
In foreign policy, the government maintained a privileged situation with New Zealand but also took care to participate in all international meetings interested in safeguarding the environment.