Island nation in the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Hawaii and Sydney, Australia. The Independent State of Western Samoa comprises those of the Samoa Island s W of 171° W. The island s to the east comprise American Samoa. The two largest island s of Western Samoa are Savai’i and Upolu. Under an agreement made in 1899 by Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, what is now Western Samoa became German territory. In World War I New Zealand took the island s in 1914 and received a League of Nations mand ate to administer them in 1921.
In 1946 Western Samoa became a United Nations trusteeship, administered by New Zealand. New Zealand’s rule was unpopular with both the European and the Polynesian inhabitants, however. After a plebiscite conducted by the United Nations in 1961, Western Samoa became an independent constitutional monarchy on January 1, 1962, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1997, the Constitution was amended to change the country’s name from Western Samoa to Samoa. Apia, on Opolu, is the capital and the nation’s only port and city. Robert Louis Stevenson, the popular Scottish author, spent his last years on Upolu, dying in 1894. He is buried here.