April 17 - Flag Day in American Samoa

Posted on April 17, 2020

On this date in 1900, American Samoa became...American!

There are quite a few Samoan Islands located in the South Pacific. Samoa-the-independent-nation is made up of two main islands and four smaller isles; altogether, it is quite a little bit smaller than Rhode Island. (My own state, California, is almost 150 times larger than Samoa!)

American Samoa, which lies to the east of Samoa, is made up of five main islands and two coral atolls - but its main islands are probably the size of Samoa's small islands, because American Samoa is only close to half the size of Samoa. (California is about 280 times larger!)

Notice that although American Samoa is south of the Equator
(unlike the rest of the U.S.), it is to the east of 180 degrees
longitude (also known as the International Date Line).

This is good, because it means that American Samoans
share the same date as the rest of Americans - although
it is a day behind folks who live in the nation of Samoa!
American Samoa became a territory of the U.S. on April 17, 1900. Most of the governing of the island happens right there on the island, and American Samoans (like residents of other U.S. territories) don't have much sway in the government of the United States. They are considered U.S. nationals, not U.S. citizens, and they elect a nonvoting member of the House of Representatives (and have no representation in the Senate). They can vote in U.S. presidential primaries but cannot vote for a presidential candidate in the general election.

But they do get to see this when they look out their windows:

American Samoans are almost all fluent in English and Samoan. The Polynesian culture of American Samoa has to some extent been Americanized (whereas Samoa's Polynesian culture has to some extent been "British-ized," because it was once part of New Zealand; for example, American Samoans drive on the right side of the street in American Samoa, like folks in the U.S., but Samoans drive on the left, like folks in Britain and New Zealand).

Here is the flag of American Samoa:

The colors and the eagle represent American Samoa's ties to the U.S., and the war club and fly whisk in the eagle's talons are symbols of Samoan chiefs. 

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