Republic. Gained independence from New Zealand-administered UN trusteeship in 1962.
Head of state:
Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi since 2007.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi since 1998.
230 volts AC, 50Hz (110 volts AC in some hotels). Angled three-pin 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.
Last updated: 26 March 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The level of serious crime is low, but incidents of petty theft are fairly common. Don’t leave your belongings unattended. Use hotel safes for passports and valuables.
Samoa switched to driving on the left in 2009. As many vehicles have steering wheels on the left, you should take care when driving on the roads. Observe speed limits strictly.
You should avoid driving at night out of built-up areas. Vehicle safety regulations are not consistently enforced and traffic violations occur routinely. Roads in Samoa often cross small streams. Take care when crossing these streams.
Tide changes can produce powerful currents in ocean lagoons. Take local advice before swimming. Fatal accidents have occurred at popular beaches.