Location: Pacific Ocean
Capital: Apia

Time zone: GMT/UTC plus 13 hours
Daylight savings time: during southern hemisphere summer
Current time: 14:17
Population: 187,820
Currency: Samoan tala
Dialling code: +685
Internet suffix: .ws

Samoa is a Pacific Island country known for its climate and strong indigenous culture.


Overall security situation: very secure
Crime rate: very low 
Murder rate: moderate
Gun ownership levels: thought to be low
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no

Samoa is one of the most secure parts of the world. The crime rate is very low with limited petty crime, infrequent violent crime and generally good police coverage, although there are some problems with drug abuse. There is a moderate murder rate for a population of its size but this is at least part due to social issues related to drugs.

The official guns-per-capita ratio is not known but it is thought to be low in comparison to the rest of the world.

Society is largely content, with some mostly single-issue grievances. Civil unrest poses a very low level of risk. Demonstrations are usually infrequent, peaceful, orderly and professionally managed. The size of the population often means that any sort of political action group can likely make its voice heard via less disruptive civil society means.

While overall stable from a day-to-day basis, the country’s institutions would be vulnerable to any future shock, crisis or disaster, mostly due to the small size of the country. In most circumstances Samoa would likely be able to rely on international support in the event that it suffered a major crisis.

Terrorism poses an extremely low level of risk.


Aviation safety levels: standard
Annual road fatality rates: high
Vehicles drive on the: left
Infrastructure quality: poor
Urban ATM availability: moderate
Electricity supply: 230V 50Hz
Electricity supply reliability: poor
Plug types: I

Plug type I (2 or 3 flat pins, those with 3 pins are grounded/earthed, those with 2 are not)




Is tap water drinkable: no
Healthcare quality: significant gaps in healthcare provision
Infectious disease prevalence: moderate

Vaccinations

Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B (not always needed)
  • Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)

Disease presence

Malaria risk: none
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: frequent cases
Rabies prevalence: low risk
HIV prevalence in society: low
Hepatitis A prevalence: high
Hepatitis B prevalence: low
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: present

Zika virus presence: recent outbreak(s) reported
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: low/non-existent risk
Chagas disease presence: none

Typhoid fever presence: sporadic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: not thought to be present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no


Climate: tropical; rainy season (November to April), dry season (May to October)
Terrain: two main islands (Savaii, Upolu) and several smaller islands and uninhabited islets; narrow coastal plain with volcanic, rugged mountains in interior
Natural disaster risk: moderate
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons (mostly between November and April); flooding; volcanic activity; earthquakes; tsunami
Tropical storms: common
Volcanic activity: Savai’i Island (elev. 1,858 m), which last erupted in 1911, is historically active
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no


Government type: parliamentary democracy
Socio-economic development score: 6/10 (medium levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 99%
Unemployment rate: high
Civil liberties: well respected
Investment rating: not rated
Corruption levels: moderate
Same-sex sexual activity: illegal
Death penalty: abolished
Languages: Samoan (Polynesian) (official), English
Ethnic groups: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians (persons of European and Polynesian blood) 7%, Europeans 0.4%
Beliefs: Protestant 57.4% (Congregationalist 31.8%, Methodist 13.7%, Assembly of God 8%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.9%), Roman Catholic 19.4%, Mormon 15.2%, Worship Centre 1.7%, other Christian 5.5%, other 0.7%, none 0.1%, unspecified 0.1%

General guidelines

  • The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
  • However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
  • Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
  • Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
  • Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
  • Consider conducting or obtaining a risk assessment specific to you, your profile and your trip, task or operation.
  • This should take into account the likelihood of potential risks affecting you, as well as the likely impact they will have, and will help you decide, depending on your risk appetite and implementable risk mitigation measures, whether or not you should proceed.

Weather

  • If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
  • Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
  • Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
  • Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
  • Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
  • Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
  • Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
  • As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.

Seismic activity

  • Be prepared to respond at short notice to any seismic activity.
  • Create an emergency plan to follow in the event of an incident that involves a communications breakdown, so you can meet colleagues at a designated meeting point if you are separated and cannot get in contact with one another.
  • Practise drills such as “drop, seek cover and hold on” procedure so that you can take shelter as soon as an incident occurs.
  • Know the location of your nearest medical kit and medically trained personnel.
  • Knowledge of basic first aid will also be very useful.
  • Get away from glass or anything that could fall if shaking starts.
  • Consider carrying a whistle that can be used to alert first responders in the event that you are trapped after an earthquake – although bear in mind that in some circumstances and/or locations there may not be much in the way of first response capabilities, particularly following a damaging earthquake.
  • In the event of an incident, avoid damaged buildings that might still be at risk of collapse.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Note that earthquakes can trigger tsunamis and landslides so be prepared to move out of harm’s way once the shaking has stopped.
  • You may need to move very quickly and with limited time.

Volcanic activity

  • In at-risk areas, pay attention to official warnings and observe exclusion zone orders.
  • Know your evacuation routes and the location of your nearest shelters and medical facilities.
  • Familiarise yourself with any official warning systems.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient supplies (such as food, water, medications and fuel) as well as good working vehicles so you can leave very quickly if needed.
  • Be prepared to react to evacuation orders and actual eruptions at short notice.
  • Be prepared for possible travel disruption in the event of an eruption, which could affect flights and lead to congested roads and fuel shortages.
  • Depending on the level of risk, consider having a shelter in your accommodation and/or place of work if it is in an area which could be affected by heavy ash fall, as this could provide you temporary shelter in the event of an eruption.

Infrastructure

  • Be prepared for potentially poor-quality roads and other forms of transportation.
  • This can make it difficult to get around.
  • Consider obtaining a high-quality vehicle that can handle difficult terrain if you intend to travel anywhere with particularly bad-quality roads.
  • Bear in mind that traffic safety conditions may be poor.
  • Try to ensure that any accommodation or workplace is located in a good quality building.
  • Bear in mind that in the event of an accident or emergency, the emergency response services may have very limited resources available.

Road traffic accident

  • Be aware of local driving conditions and hazards.
  • Drive defensively and adhere to speed limits to minimise the risk of being caught up in an accident, or request that your driver(s) do the same.
  • If using a taxi or local driver, ensure that they are qualified and competent and that their vehicle appears well maintained.
  • Ensure that vehicles are in good working order before travel.
  • Perform regular checks on your vehicles for oil, fuel, tyres and seatbelts.
  • Consider taking additional equipment such as a jack, spare tyres, water, blankets, torches and a first aid kit, especially if travelling to more rural or isolated areas.
  • Consider using four-wheel drive vehicles for particularly poor road conditions.
  • Car users should know how to perform emergency repairs.

Healthcare

  • Bear in mind that healthcare facilities and services may be less extensive than what you are used to at home.
  • Facilities and services may be particularly limited in rural areas.
  • Pharmacies may not offer the same medications you might be accustomed to being able to purchase at home.
  • If you use any medications on a regular basis, consider taking extra supplies.
  • It may also be advisable to have them accompanied by a note from your doctor.
  • In the event of serious or complicated illness or injury it may be necessary for a patient to be evacuated out of the country.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient medical insurance in place to cover such an event.

Religious or conservative attitudes

  • Exercise sensitivity in societies which place a high value on perceived morality, even if it goes against personal beliefs and values.
  • Research what local cultural practises, attitudes, values and laws you will need to be mindful of before travelling.
  • Note that some behaviours, interactions and attire may also attract unwanted attention, cause offence or trigger a hostile response.
  • Note that some subjects may be taboo so avoid discussing them with people if you think it might cause offence.