The New Student's Reference Work/Samoa

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Samoa (sä-mō' ȧ), is the name of a group of islands in the Pacific, from 400 to 500 miles northeast of Fiji. All but one are of volcanic formation, and are mostly surrounded by coral reefs. They are mountainous, well-wooded, with rich soil. Only four are of any size. The largest, Savaii, is 47 miles long and 28 wide. Upolu has on its northern side the bay and harbor of Apia, while on the shore of the bay is Apia, the chief town of the islands. In the spring there are disastrous hurricanes. Copra, the dried kernel of the cocoanut, is the chief export. Cotton, coffee and tobacco are cultivated, and sugarcane grows wild. Steamers ply between Apia and San Francisco, Auckland and Sydney. The Samoans belong to the brown Polynesian race. They are a well-formed people, but lessening in numbers, the present population being about 35,000. The Frenchman Bougainville visited the islands in 1768, and called them the Navigators' Islands, from the skill of the native boatman. The natives are Christians. By treaty, in 1889, the United States, Great Britain and Germany assumed joint control of the islands. This arrangement continued in force till 1898, when King Malietoa Laupepa died, and disturbances arose regarding the succession. A joint commission which was appointed recommended, among other measures, the abolition of the kingship. The result was that, by the Anglo-German agreement of Nov. 14, 1899, accepted and ratified by the United States in January, 1900, Great Britain renounced all rights over the islands in favor of Germany as regards Savaii and Upolu and in favor of the United States as regards Tutuila and other islands. In February, 1900, a naval governor was appointed for Tutuila. The island of Tutuila, 70 miles from Apia, has an area of about 54 square miles, with a population of 3,800. Manua and the other islets have a united area of about 25 square miles, with about 2,000 inhabitants. Tutuila is mountainous, luxuriantly wooded and fertile. It is described as the most pleasing of the Samoan islands. The harbor at Pago-Pago, which penetrates the south coast, is the only good harbor in Samoa. The German islands of Savaii and Upolu have a combined area of 1,000 square miles, with a population of 33,000.