Samoans first came in the Americas from Southeast Asia about 1500-1000 BC. Mulifanua on Upolu island is the earliest known site of human habitation during that time period.
In 1830, missionaries from the London Missionary Society, particularly John Williams, came, and Samoa quickly accepted Christianity. Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) have lately built many large churches.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Samoans had earned a reputation for being warlike, having fought battles with the British, Germans, and Americans who sought to utilize Samoa as a refueling station for coal-fired ships, whaling, and commodities. German companies monopolized copra and cocoa bean production on the island of ‘Upolu, while the United States established connections with local chieftains, mostly on the islands to the east, which were subsequently ceded to the United States as American Samoa and have not been given independence. Britain also sent soldiers to defend commercial interests. Germany, America, and the United Kingdom sent weapons and training to fighting Samoans, fueling tribal clashes. All three deployed warships into Apia port, but luckily for Samoa, a big storm in 1889 damaged or destroyed the vessels, thus ending the fight.
The Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, who traveled to the South Pacific for his health and lived in Samoa in the early 1890s, was a significant newcomer. His home in Upolu, Vailima, and his tomb on the hill above it, may both be visited. Stevenson was known as “Tusitala” (Teller of Tales), and his name is still remembered at one of Apia’s hotels.
On the island of Savai’i, an independence movement started in the early 1900s. By the late 1920s, the Mau a Pule had gained broad support across the nation. The colonial government subsequently prohibited supporters from wearing the Mau uniform, which was a navy blue lavalava with a white stripe. The New Zealand soldiers opened fire on a peaceful Mau march on December 28, 1929, killing 11 Samoans. When World War I broke out in 1914, New Zealand invaded the German protectorate of Western Samoa. It remained to govern the islands until 1962, when they became the first Polynesian country to re-establish independence in the twentieth century. In 1997, the nation deleted the word “Western” from its name, which differentiated it from American Samoa. On June 1st, it observes Independence Day.
To foster stronger relations with Samoa’s biggest trade partners, Australia and New Zealand, driving was moved from the right to the left side of the road in September 2009. It was the first nation in many years to swap sides, but its tiny size made things less chaotic. Then, in December 2011, Samoa swapped sides of the International Date Line, from east to west (UTC -11 to +13). The change was intended to assist companies with connections to New Zealand that only shared three working days each week (Monday in NZ was Sunday in Samoa & Friday in Samoa was Saturday in NZ).