Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa and formerly Western Samoa, is a country in the western region of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. The two main islands of the country are Upolu and Savai'i.
The first contact with Europeans came in the early 18th century, with mission work beginning in 1830. Germany showed interest in the islands for commercial reasons but the U.S. laid a claim and formed alliances with chieftains on the islands of Tutuila and Manu'a, which were later annexed to the United States as American Samoa. Britain then sent troops to protect British rights, which led to a civil war as America, Germany and the U.K. fought over who should control the islands.
In 1899, the Samoan Islands were partitioned into two parts: the eastern group of islands became a territory of the U.S. (American Samoa) while the Western Islands were German Samoa, which later came under the control of New Zealand until Samoa gained independence in 1962.
Given its size, Samoa's population has remained relatively stable for decades. At the last census in 2006, the population was 179,186. It is estimated this population has grown to 195,000 in 2014.
92.6% of the population are Samoans while 7% are Euronesians, or people with mixed European and Polynesian ancestors. About 0.4% of the population is Europeans. 75% of the population lives on the main island of Upolu.
The religious breakdown of Samoa is: 32% Christian Congregational Church of Samoa, 19% Roman Catholic, 15% Mormon, 4% Seventh-Day Adventist, 1.7% Worship Centre, 5.5% other Christian, 0.7% other, and 0.1% none.