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    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

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  • Samoa!

    Samoa: A traditional home. Go Now!

    Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. Begin Your Journey!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Samoa


Samoan Geography - Waterfall

Samoa consists of two large islands, Savai'i and Upolu, plus a few smaller islands. These islands sit in Polynesia close to Melanesia. The islands are volcanic in origin (and some volcanos are still active) and the two large islands are fairly mountainous.

The large islands have a heavily forested interior as numerous rivers and streams run to the coasts. Additionally, due to the volcanic origin the soil is very fertile so the lands are very livable when they receive rain. The islands are also primarily surrounded by coral reefs

The ocean currents around the islands move from the north to the south. Despite this, the islands were likely first inhabited by Polynesians, who arrived from Tonga, which is located to the country's south. However, these ocean currents aren't enough to attract regular visitors so over time the people on Samoa became almost completely isolated and developed a unique culture as Samoa is considered the center of Polynesian culture.


Samoan Geography - Home on the water
Home on the water

Samoa's weather is hot, humid, rainy, and fairly predictable. This climate makes the country ideal for crop growth and human settlement as these rains allow the people to grow numerous foods, it gives them access to fresh water, and these conditions also allow animals to thrive, although few animals exist on the islands.

There are two basic seasons in Samoa: the dry season, which is a bit cooler and runs from about May to October and the wet season, which is hotter and runs from about December to April. Since the differences between "hot" and "cold" in Samoa are nearly negligible, the real differences in weather are rainfall and elevation as temperatures dip a bit at elevation.

During the dry season (May-October) daily lows average about 72° F (22° C) (at night), but daily highs are around 86° F (30° C) and most days tend to be in the low-80s° F (27-29° C). There is less rain during this season as the average rainfall is about 5 inches (125 mm) a month during this time.

The rest of the year is nearly identical from a temperature standpoint with temperatures maybe being 2-4° F (1-2° C) warmer during the hottest months of January to March. However, this is the rainy season and the months of December to March tend to average over 12 inches (300 mm) of rain each month. The rainy season is also cyclone season; major cyclones are rare as they only occur every dozen years or so, although they can arrive in quick succession and small cyclones occur nearly every year.


Samoan Wildlife - Flying foxes
"Flying foxes"

The number of native plants and animals in Samoa are somewhat limited since the country is an island nation. However, Samoa boasts a more diverse plant system than any other nation in Polynesia with the exception of Hawai'i (in the United States); in some ways Samoa boasts more plant diversity than even New Zealand. However, the native land animal life is almost non-existent. It is the migrating birds and sea life that has had the most significant presence in creating today's plant and animal life. Much of what is found on the islands today was introduced in pre-historic times by the migrating people, birds, winds, and ocean currents.

As an island nation that rose from the sea floor there were no native mammals in Samoa, although a few bat species arrived thousands of years ago. The most famous of these is the "flying fox," a large bat found throughout the country. Some species of rats also made their way to the islands hundreds, if not thousands of years ago. Other than this, no land mammals existed on Samoa until the arrival of the earliest people, who likely came from the region of New Guinea and may have brought with them dogs and pigs, two animals that eventually made their way to Samoa.

The seas are also home to mammals as dolphins and whales call the surrounding waters home. These waters are also filled with thousands of fish, shellfish, and other forms of sea life. This sea life includes surgeonfish, clownfish, sailfish, puffer fish, butterfly fish, grouper, barracuda, tuna, mackerel, marlin, mahi-mahi, shrimp, krill, crab, seahorses, manta rays, sharks, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, coral, as well as the famous and culturally-important Palolo Reef Worm among many others.

Samoan Wildlife - Breadfruit tree
Breadfruit tree

This sea life and the islands have also attracted numerous birds, including many that feed off the animals in the sea. The bird life in Samoa includes doves, parrots, ducks, heron, terns, frigate birds, pigeons, cuckoos, and the locally famous manumea among others.

The reptilian and amphibious life is fairly limited for the same reasons the mammalian life is limited. The most common of these animals are those adapted to the water and swimming as sea turtles can be found in the nearby waters. Land species have again made their way to the islands in numerous methods and today lizards, snakes, and geckos are among the most common of these animals.

The insect and other small animal life is fairly diverse as many insects can fly or float and have made their way to Samoa. These animals include butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, ants, flies, snails, spiders, mosquitos, and worms among others.

The plant life, as mentioned, is relatively diverse for a small country, especially an isolated island nation. The diversity is best noted in the form of trees and ferns as many species of each are widespread and the variety is quite diverse. However it is only really in the tree and fern species that the plant life in Samoa is diverse. Despite this locally diverse plant life, most seeds arrived to the islands through wind, water, and birds so today most of the plants on Samoa are no different than neighboring islands. These foreign plants, that now thrive in the country, include coconuts, taro, breadfruit, bananas, yams, arrowroot, lemons, and sugarcane among others.

There is also a presence of other trees and plants, including orchids, hibiscus, eucalyptus, frangipani, ferns, mosses, mahogany trees, mangrove trees, and pandanus trees.

This page was last updated: November, 2013