A little while ago I worked out that the entire population of Samoans in the world is easily under 700,000 people. That’s like, every last one of us… everywhere.
As a Samoan in South Auckland – known for its uniquely high concentration of Pacific Islanders especially Samoans – it’s easy for me to forget that the number of human beings who share my ethnic heritage represents barely a drop in the vast ocean of the world’s nearly 7 billion strong population.
Makes me that much prouder of our enduring culture, our incredibly talented people making names for themselves in sports and entertainment, and just how good we can be at capturing world wide headlines – aye jump-the-time-line, change-the-driving-lane, play-the-catfish and weigh-your-passengers.
It’s also a reminder to me, though, that much of the world is pretty clueless about who we are.
For that reason, I am more determined now that One Samoana becomes a source of valuable information for anyone curious about Samoans and our culture… even if those ‘anyones’ have Samoan blood, too.
SO, a good place to begin is with a very basic geography lesson: Where are the Samoan islands?
Short answer: In the Pacific Ocean.
Let’s look at a map, shall we?
I like this old school looking one from mapsnworld.com:
Okay so we’ve located the Pacific Ocean – that’s the big blue space bordered on the west by the Americas and on the east by Asia and Australasia.
The Pacific is divided a couple of ways. First, all Pacific islands south of the equator are commonly known as the “South Pacific”… (although we rarely ever refer to the other half as “North Pacific”. Funny that.) So yes, Samoa is in the South Pacific.
Pacific islands are also grouped into 3 distinct regions: Micronesia (small islands), Melanesia (“dark” islands) and Polynesia (many islands). Samoa belongs to the group called Polynesia, which also includes Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. The shape of this region resembles a triangle, and because of where Samoa sits in that configuration – and because our legends say so – we like to think of ourselves as the Heart of Polynesia.
To be even more
pedantic precise, the coordinates for the location of the Samoan islands are 13.7745° S, 172.0428° W (thank you Google).
I hope this little intro has put an image in your head of where Samoa is. Now go book your flights!
Or maybe it’s time that I do. All this looking at maps is making me homesick…