American Samoa History
Source: US State Department
Contact with Europeans began in the early 1700s but did not intensify until the arrival of English missionaries and traders in the 1830s.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Samoan islands were split into two sections. The eastern islands became territories of the United States in 1904 and today are known as American Samoa. The western islands became known as Western Samoa (now the Independent State of Samoa), passing from German control to New Zealand in 1914. New Zealand administered Western Samoa under the auspices of the League of Nations and then as a UN trusteeship until independence in 1962. Western Samoa was the first Pacific Island country to gain its independence.
In July 1997 the Constitution was amended to change the country's name from Western Samoa to Samoa (officially the "Independent State of Samoa"). Western Samoa had been known simply as Samoa in the United Nations since joining the organization in 1976.
The neighboring U.S. territory of American Samoa protested the move, feeling that the change diminished its own Samoan identity. American Samoans still use the terms Western Samoa and Western Samoans.
NOTE: The information regarding American Samoa on this page is re-published from the US State Department. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of American Samoa History information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about American Samoa History should be addressed to the State Department.