American Samoa Travel Advice
- There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
- Most visits to American Samoa are trouble-free. We are not aware of any British nationals who required consular assistance in American Samoa in 2008.
- The tropical cyclone season in American Samoa normally runs from November to April. See Natural Disasters.
- We recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General - Insurance.
Safety and security
Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
Safety and Security - Crime
The level of both serious and petty crime is low. .
Safety and Security - Local Travel
The tropical cyclone season from November to April can seriously affect local travel. If you are contemplating sea journeys in particular during this period you should check weather report.
Entry Requirements - Visa Requirements
British passport holders visiting American Samoa are normally given permission to enter for up to 30 days provided they have an onward air or sea ticket and relevant health certificates.
Entry Requirements - Passport Validity
American Samoa is a US unincorporated territory therefore US visa restrictions apply. You should ensure that your passport has six months’ validity remaining on it before you leave.
Entry Requirements - Yellow Fever vaccination certificates
Yellow Fever vaccination certificates are required only if you have been in an infected area prior to arrival in American Samoa.
Entry Requirements - Travelling when pregnant
Women should be aware that those in an advanced state of pregnancy should bring with them documentation from a medical professional attesting to their stage of pregnancy. The Immigration Office in American Samoa is not allowing entry to women who are six months or more pregnant.
American Samoa has few health risks of concern for normally healthy persons visiting the islands. Bring necessary medications with you, for supplies may not be available. Medical care is limited (there is none on the Manu’a Islands). Though the LBJ Tropical Medical Center on Tutuila was once a highly regarded regional health center, now it has fallen on hard times with staffing problems and has only marginal service. Visitors who come down with serious medical needs should get to Hawaii, Australia, or New Zealand.
Except for perhaps a few thousand individuals-nearly all inhabitants of American Samoa are indigenous Samoans of Polynesian ancestry. More than any other U.S. or Polynesians peoples, Samoans are tradition-oriented and closely follow social customs and hierarchies from long before arrival of the first Europeans. This Samoan way—or fa'asamoa—is still deeply ingrained in American Samoa culture.
The most apparent character is the Samoan matai system of organization and philosophy. In general, each village is made up of a group of aiga, or extended families, which include as many relatives as can be claimed. Each aiga is headed by a chief, or matai, who represents the family on all matters including the village council, or fono. Matais hold title to all assets of the aigas, or families; they represent and are responsible for law enforcement and punishment of infractions occurring in their villages.
The fono consists of the matais of all the aiga associated with the village. The highest chief of the matais of all the village aigas is the highest chief, or the ali’i, and heads the fono. Also, each village has a pulenu’u (somewhat like a police chief or mayor), and one or more talking chiefs, tulafale.
Over the centuries, distinct cultural traits emerged that we now call fa'asamoa (fah-ah-SAH-mo-ah). Whether you are a guest or simply passing through a village, please observe these customs as a sign of respect.
Follow the Samoan Way:
General - Insurance
- Always ask villagers for permission before taking photographs, using the beach, or engaging in other activities, however unobtrusive your actions may seem. Permission will almost certainly be granted.
- In a traditional home, called a fale (fah-LAY), sit down on the floor before talking, eating, or drinking. Cross your legs or pull a mat over them; it is impolite to stretch out your legs uncovered.
- Sunday is the day for church, for rest, and especially for quiet around the villages. Activities that are acceptable on other days, such as swimming, may not be permitted on Sunday.
- Each evening around dusk, villagers observe a time for prayers called Sa. If you are entering a village during Sa, stop and wait quietly until Sa ends. You may even be invited to join in a family prayer. It is not necessary to stop for Sa on the main roads.
- It is considered an honor to be asked to share ava (a local drink made from the root of the pepper plant). To show respect, spill a few drops on the ground or mat in front of you, then raise your cup and say "manuia" (mahn-ooh-WE-ah) before drinking.
- Do not eat or drink while walking through a village
You should get comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. In the event of a medical emergency, evacuation to Australia, New Zealand or Hawaii is likely to be the only option for treatment, and insurance policies should cover this eventuality. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.
American Samoa has a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures hoover around 30 degrees Celcius throughout the year and never drop much lower than 23 or 24 degrees at night. Temperatures are slightly higher during the wetter November to March period and slightly lower between April and October. This last period is the best season to visit as it rains less (but still significantly) and there is almost no chance of hurricanes, which can strik from December to March. Pago Pago is one of the wettest inhabitant places anywhere in the world, so be prepared to get soked sometimes.
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