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: 21 December 2014
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 tropical cyclone season in the South Pacific runs from November 1 and lasts until April 30. Water levels can rise quickly during periods of heavy rain.
There is no resident British diplomatic mission in Samoa and the Honorary Consul position is currently vacant. If you need consular assistance you should contact the British High Commission in Wellington.
In an emergency you may be referred to the Australian or New Zealand High Commission in Apia.
Roads often cross small streams; you should avoid driving at night outside built up areas. See Road travel.
Most visits to Samoa are trouble-free but incidents of petty theft are fairly common.
There is a low threat from terrorism. See Terrorism.