Samoa profile - Timeline

  • 12 September 2014
  • From the section Asia

A chronology of key events

Girls walk past a monument
A monument in Mulinu'u marks Germany's annexation of Samoa

1722 - Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen is the first European to explore Samoa.

1830 - London Missionary Society arrives in Samoa.

1899 - Germany annexes Western Samoa (now called the Independent State of Samoa, or just Samoa), the US takes over eastern Samoa (American Samoa) and Britain withdraws its claim to the islands in accordance with treaty between Germany, Britain and the US.

1914 - New Zealand occupies Western Samoa during World War I and continues to administer it after the war by virtue of a League of Nations mandate (and a United Nations mandate after World War II).

1928 - New Zealand authorities shoot dead 11 members of the mau passive resistance movement.

Samoan matai, or chiefs, attend a ceremony
Samoa is regarded by some as the cradle of Polynesian culture

1939-45 - US troops stationed in Western Samoa during World War II, but no battles are fought on the islands.


1962 - Western Samoa becomes independent, the first Pacific island nation to do so.

1990 - Voters narrowly approve universal suffrage for parliament and increase the legislature's term from three to five years; 10,000 people are left homeless by Cyclone Ofa.

1997 - Western Samoa changes its name to Samoa, a move which causes some tension with American Samoa.

1998 - Government imposes stringent restrictions on media freedom.

2000 - Two former cabinet ministers are sentenced to death for the murder of a fellow politician who had threatened to expose a corruption scandal, but the death sentences are commuted.

2001 March - Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi is re-elected for a second term after a cliff-hanger election. His Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) claims 28 seats in the 49-seat parliament.

2002 June - New Zealand formally apologises to Samoa for its poor treatment of Samoan citizens in colonial times. Prime Minister Helen Clark makes the apology at a ceremony in Apia marking 40 years of independence.

Fales on a beach in Samoa
Beach fales: Samoan buildings, large or small, are known as fales

2004 February - Australia says it will give Samoa $7m to help train its security forces.

2006 April - Prime Minister Tuila'epa's ruling HRPP wins parliamentary elections.

2007 March - The rights group Mau Sitiseni prepares to take its fight for most indigenous Samoans to be granted New Zealand citizenship to the UN.


2007 May - King Malietoa Tanumafili II dies aged 94, after 45 years on the throne. He was appointed king for life at independence in 1962. He was the world's third-longest reigning monarch.

Samoa becomes republic. Parliament elects former PM Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi head of state.

Man looks at damage caused by tsunami
A tsunami triggered by an undersea earthquate destroyed coastal settlements in 2009

2008 December - Eleven independent MPs form opposition Tautua Samoa Party (TSP).

2009 September - Samoa switches to driving on the left, becoming the first country since the 1970s to change the side of the road on which cars are driven. The change brings Samoa into line with other South Pacific countries.

Tsunamis caused by a powerful earthquake in the Pacific kill more than 200 people in Samoa, also hitting American Samoa and Tonga.

2011 March - Ruling Human Rights Protection Party wins landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

2011 December - Samoa "skips" a day at the end of the year, going straight from 29 to 31 December and jumping westward across the international dateline to bring it in line with its main trade partners Australia and New Zealand.

2012 May - Samoa joins the World Trade Organisation.

2012 June - Samoa marks the 50th anniversary of its independence from New Zealand with four days of festivities in the capital.