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.


Due to their location in the South Pacific Ocean, Samoa and American Samoa are vulnerable to extreme weather events and the effects of climate change. Tropical Cyclones (TC) often produce flooding, close roads, down powerlines, destroy homes and infrastructure, and cause landslides. Recovery from these events can take a long time to recover from. Flood waters can also carry pathogens which increases illnesses and creates ongoing health concerns in the region.

Tropical Cyclones

One of the worst storms to hit the region in 20 years was TC Evan which made landfall on the 13th of Dec 2012 with windspeed gusts of over 200km/hr. Apia, the capital of Samoa was severely affected, and the airport had to be temporarily closed. TC Evan caused widespread destruction and resulted in 14 deaths. Australia and New Zealand, among other nations, supported the recovery efforts, prioritising the repair of essential services such as electricity and water treatment. Australia also provided humanitarian assistance with AusAID personnel quickly arriving in Samoa to assess the needs of the nation. The storm affected food production, as many fruit plantations were destroyed or stripped bare of leaves, and many livestock were killed. American Samoa suffered no damage with only reports of high winds on their islands.

The last tropical cyclone to impact the Samoas was TC Zazu in 2020, although it did not make direct impact with any of the Samoan islands.

Climate Change

More than 70 per cent of Samoa's population lives in rural villages across Upolu and Savaii, and most of the country's infrastructure, population and development is near the coastline. This makes Samoa highly vulnerable to climate change and the resulting impact on key industries such as fishing and tourism. Samoans are very aware of the risks and have made active steps to lesson any adverse effects, such as diversifying food crops and water sources. As a nation Samoa has been a strong advocate for climate change action at the UN and other international forums.

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