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American Samoa


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This eastern part of the Pacific islands of Samoa came under US control in 1899. Under the formal government of the US navy, it remained effectively governed by Samoan chiefs, who rejected unification with Western Samoa under mistrusted New Zealand rule. Following the closure of the US naval base, its administration passed from the navy to the US Department of the Interior in 1951, as an unincorporated territory. American interest in the Samoans' welfare only began after UN accusations of neglect, whereupon US spending increased tenfold (1959–63). In 1976 the American Samoans finally accepted self-government (which they had rejected in 1972). Political life has been characterized by the absence of political parties, and the relatively strong political power of local chiefs in the second chamber, the Senate.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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