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close this book The Courier - N°159 - Sept- Oct 1996 Dossier Investing in People Country Reports: Mali ; Western Samoa
close this folder Country report
close this folder Western Samoa
View the document A new spirit of enterprise
View the document An interview with Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
View the document Profile
View the document Marketing a tropical idyIl
View the document Interview with opposition leader Tupua Tamasese Efi
View the document Western Samoa-EU cooperation


General information

Area: 2934 km² (Exclusive Economic Zone of 130 000 km²)

Population: 165000

Population density: 57 per kiLométres

Capital: Apia (situated on the island of Upolu)

National language: Samoan (English is the business language)

Currency: Tala (WS$) made up of 100 sene. In June 1996, 1 ECU was worth approximately WS$ 3. (US$1 = WS$ 2.3)


System of government: A unicameral constitutional democracy with strong traditional elements. The current Head of State is one of the country's four paramount chiefs, and he holds the office for life. Thereafter, the Fono (Legislative Assembly) will elect the Head of State for five-year terms.

There is universal franchise (introduced in 1991) but in order to be a Parliamentary candidate, one has to be a matai (family head). Western Samoa is said to have about 19000 matai. The minimum voting age is 21.

Head of State: HH Malietoa Tanumafili II

Prime Minister: Tofilau Eti Alesana

Main political parties: Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP), Samoa National Development Party (SNDP)

Party representation in Parliament: HRPP 35, SNDP 11, Independent 3. (The HRPP total includes 11 members elected as independents in the April 1996 election who subsequently joined the governing party).


Economy (1995 figures unless otherwise stated)

Annual GDP per capita: approx US$ 950

GDP growth rate: 7%. The target for 1996 is 34%

Principal exports: coconut oil (WS $8m), coconut cream (WS $4.8m), copra (WS $2.2m).

Balance of payments: exports - WS $21.7m, imports - WS $228.1m. 'Invisible' earnings, officially described as 'net foreign earnings' amounted to WS $171m, leaving a current amount deficit of WS $36.8m in 1995 (20%lower than the previous year). The main 'invisibles' are private transfers (remittances from Western Samoans living abroad), tourism, income from services and the value added trade of the Yazaki electrical components firm.

Inflation rate (end 1995): 1 %. Inflation tends to fluctuate a great deal. The figure for 1994 was 18.4%.

Government budget (projected for 1996/97): revenue WS $288.4m, expenditure WS $312.7m, deficit WS $24.3m.

Accumulated government debt: WS$ 389 m

Social indicators

Life expectancy at birth (1993): 67.8 years

Adult literacy (1993): 98% (A UNESCO report in 1994 suggested that real literacy levels were significantly below those indicated in official figures)

Enrolment in education: all levels from age 6-23: 74%

Human Development Index rating: 0.700 (88th out of 174)