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Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa, is a country governing the western half of the Samoan Islands archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. Previous names were Samoa from 1900 to 1919, and Western Samoa from 1914 to 1997. It was admitted to the United Nations on 15 December 1976 as Samoa. The entire island group, inclusive of American Samoa, was known as Navigators Islands before the 20th century because of the Samoans' seafaring skills.

The Fa'a Samoa, or traditional Samoan way, remains a strong force in Samoan life and politics. Despite centuries of European influence, Samoa maintains its historical customs, social systems, and language, which is believed to be the oldest form of Polynesian speech still in existence. Only the Maoris of New Zealand outnumber the Samoans among Polynesian groups.

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  • Western Samoa was administered by New Zealand under a League of Nations mandate through the Treaty of Versailles. After World War II, Western Samoa became a United Nations Trust Territory under the administration of New Zealand. In May 1961, a plebiscite held under the supervision of the United Nations on the basis of universal adult suffrage voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. In October of the same year, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to terminate the trusteeship agreement as of January 1, 1962, on which date Western Samoa became an independent sovereign state. Western Samoa earned the distinction of being the first independent sovereign state in the South Pacific. The prefix "Western" was dropped in July 1997 and the country renamed itself the Independent State of Samoa.

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