The ‘Know Your Region’ series is designed to support unit and individual professional military education on the Indo-Pacific region. It’s important for all serving members of our military to have a foundational knowledge of the countries and issues in our region.

On this page

  • Summary
  • Samoan Politics
  • American Samoan Politics
  • Samoan Diplomacy
  • Samoa and Australia
  • American Samoa and Australia
  • Samoa and its Neighbours
  • American Samoa and its Neighbours
  • Public Diplomacy
  • International Forums


Samoan history dates back thousands of years with strong Polynesian influence. Despite this, both of countries encompassing the Samoan Islands have very modern political systems while retaining their Polynesian culture.

Samoan Politics

Samoa is a parliamentary democracy with a constitution written with the influence of Samoan traditions and culture. Samoa’s Head of State is His Highness Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II and has been so since 21 July 2017. The Prime Minister is the Honourable Fiame Naomi Mata’afa who is the first female Prime Minister of Samoa and has been so since 9 April 2021. All seats of the legislative assembly are reserved for matai people who have chiefly status in their village. Samoa enacted constitutional reform legislation in 2013 which reserves 10 percent of legislative seats for women. If fewer than 10 percent of seats are won by women additional seats are added and filled with women who had the highest number of votes.

American Samoan Politics

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America and as such has an elected governor and Lieutenant-Governor under legislature. The President of the United States of America is their Head of State, and their Head of Government is Governor Honorable Lemanu P.S. Mauga and has been so since 3 January 2021. The American Samoa Legislative Assembly (known as the Fono) consists of a Senate of 18 members and a House of Representatives of 21 members. Senators are chiefs chosen by 12 county councils and serve four-year terms. 20 of the 21 representatives are elected by universal suffrage to represent 17 districts for two-year terms, and the remaining representative is an appointed member from Swains Island with no voting rights. American Samoa has a US congress delegate as a member of the US House of Representatives but has no voting rights.

Residents of American Samoa are not US citizens but rather US nationals who are able to freely enter the US to work and reside. US immigration laws do not apply for people entering American Samoa from other countries.

Samoa and Australia

Australia provided support to Samoa’s response to COVID-19 including the delivery of Australian Aid COVID-19 vaccines. Australia has three pillars within their development partnership with Samoa: health security, stability, and economic recovery. Australia also has a bilateral partnership with Samoa which contains the five pillars of: climate and disaster resilience, security cooperation, economic growth and partnerships, human and socio-economic development, and people to people linkages.

For further information on Samoa and Australia, see the resources below:

American Samoa and Australia

American Samoa has no specific diplomatic relationship with Australia as it is a US territory, though they share membership of Pacific regional organisations such as the Pacific Community. Australia has no resident representation in American Samoa with the Australian High Commission in Samoa handling all consular and diplomatic business in American Samoa.

For further information on American Samoa and Australia, see the resources below:

Samoa and its Neighbours

Samoa shares friendly diplomatic relations with fellow pacific island nations and non-pacific nations. Samoa maintains strong ties with New Zealand following from its independence. Samoa’s reliance on foreign aid and grants means that it must carefully manage numerous foreign diplomatic relationships and does so with a large number of nations.

For further information on Samoa its neighbours, see the resources below:

American Samoa and its Neighbours

American Samoa’s diplomatic ties are closely aligned with that of the United States of America due to being an unincorporated territory.

Public Diplomacy

New Zealand’s public diplomacy in Samoa was increased in 2018 with the launch of New Zealand’s ‘Pacific Reset’ program. The US has done the same by releasing small grants of up to $10,000 USD to non-government Samoan organisations to strengthen relationships, promote regional security, and build US-Samoa links. Australia reinforced its support to Samoa in times of crisis through a Samoan port visit with Australian Defence Vessel Reliant. The support vessel will support Samoa with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in times of crisis.

International Fora

Samoa is a part of the Pacific Islands Forum which is the region’s political and economic policy organisation. The forum’s vision is for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity. The forum organises an annual meeting among the 21 dialogue partners: Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Cuba, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Republic of Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.