Apia (Upolu Island). Population: 40,000 (UN estimate 2003).
Constitutional monarchy. Gained independence from New Zealand in 1962.
Head of state:
HH Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi since 2007.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi since 1998.
240 volts AC, 50Hz (110 volts AC in some hotels). Three-pronged plugs are in use as in Australia and New Zealand.
Samoa offers visitors the chance to experience Polynesia at its most authentic. The capital, Apia, lies on the beautiful north coast of Upolu, the largest and most populous of the country's nine islands.
In the Aleipata district, waterfalls and white-sand beaches dominate the landscape. A 65km (40 mile) drive from Apia leads to the Falefa Falls, Mafa Pass and the Fuipisia Falls.
The Scottish poet and novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson, spent his final five years living on the island - his tomb on Mount Vaea is visible from the lawn of his house, now a museum.The fa'a Samoa (the Samoan way) is arguably the most vibrant living culture in Polynesia, with a heritage that dates back for 2,000 years.