U.S. Relations With Samoa

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 26, 2016

More information about Samoa is available on the Samoa Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States established diplomatic relations with the Independent State of Samoa (then called Western Samoa) in 1971 following its independence from a New Zealand-administered trusteeship. U.S. consular relations in the Samoan islands date back to 1856 when the first U.S. Consul was posted in Apia. Currently, the U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand, resident in Wellington, is also accredited to Samoa. The daily management of the U.S. Embassy in Samoa is carried out by a resident Charge d’Affaires.

Over the years the United States and Samoa have enjoyed a close friendship based on trust and mutual interest, strengthened by people-to-people ties between the two countries, particularly among Americans of Samoan descent. Due to cultural and historical links, Samoans share a special affinity for their “brothers and sisters” in the U.S. territory of American Samoa and frequent cultural and other exchanges, as well as close family and personal ties, have underpinned the relationship between the Two Samoas and the U.S.-Samoa relationship more broadly.

In regional and international forums the United States and Samoa work together to protect the environment and fisheries, promote sustainable economic development in the Pacific region, and strengthen the tenets of democracy and human rights. Through its Embassy, the United States also engages with the Samoan Government on bilateral and multilateral issues including regional security and international law enforcement. In June of 2012 the United States and Samoa signed a Mutual Law Enforcement Agreement which allows Samoan maritime officials to utilize U.S. Coast Guard and Navy vessels to provide maritime policing in Samoan waters.

U.S. Assistance to Samoa

For over 40 years, a dynamic and active Peace Corps mission has formed the foundation of U.S. assistance to Samoa. With their focus on people-to-people engagement and practical solutions to developmental challenges, U.S. Peace Corps volunteers have provided significant assistance to Samoa’s educational and economic development and have earned the respect of many throughout Samoa. Today in the Samoan language the word “Pisi Koa” (Peace Corps) is now used as the general word for volunteer.

Two Fulbright programs currently exist in Samoa. The Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship is open annually to Samoan citizens residing in Samoa pursuing a master’s degree. Successful candidates at the national level then compete for limited slots with applicants from the Pacific region. Samoa has also benefited from the newly established Fulbright-Clinton Fellowship Program. Two Fellows per year serve ten-month stints as public policy capacity-building assistants to various Samoan government ministries.

The United States also provides significant additional assistance to Samoa, including an annual foreign assistance allocation to provide capacity building and training for the Samoan Maritime Police and frequent invitations for training and mentoring sessions for Samoan government, NGO, media, and private sector individuals. USAID has several projects in Samoa focusing on climate change, food security, and disaster preparedness. The U.S. Embassy also provides grants to civil society and private sector organizations to address issues of economic development, women’s empowerment, health, climate change, and education. In October of 2013 the United States finished the construction of a hospital opposite the international airport to aid development in the health sector.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Including American Samoa, the United States is one of Samoa’s largest export markets, accounting for over 25% of Samoan exports. Approximately 10% of Samoa’s imports come from the United States. Remittances from Samoans living in the United States, including American Samoa, contribute substantially to Samoa’s economy and a significant number of Samoans are employed in the U.S. tuna canning industry based in American Samoa.

The United States seeks to encourage greater cooperation with Samoa on economic and trade issues while promoting U.S. exports to Samoa, reducing barriers to U.S. goods and services, and protecting the interests of U.S. investors.

Samoa's Membership in International Organizations

Samoa is an active member of regional and international organizations and with the United States is a member of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and as of May 2012 the World Trade Organization. Samoa is also very active in the Pacific Islands Forum and is a founding member of the Polynesian Leaders Group.

In September 2014, Samoa hosted the UN’s 3rd Small Islands Developing States Conference.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Samoa is resident in New Zealand; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Samoa has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States.

More information about Samoa is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Samoa Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Samoa Page
U.S. Embassy: Samoa
History of U.S. Relations With Samoa
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Travel and Business Information