Despite the palm-trees-wafting-in-the-trade-winds image, American Samoa is something of an oddity in the South Pacific. Hastily Americanised in the 1960s, the islands have all the ugly results of commercial and cultural imperialism sticking out from behind the fronds. The history of American Samoa over the last hundred years is a history of the desperate attempts by spent colonial forces to exert authority over a traditional people. Everyone from the British, to the Germans, to the Americans have pushed nd pulled at the group of islands, and the shared god of all these Western nations has almost totally replaced the traditional belief system.
Yet despite all of this, American Samoa still somehow manages to be a friendly, spectacular destination for travellers. Cultural practice hasn't entirely disappeared, only a small area of the islands is disgustingly polluted and the locals' friendliness has barely been dented. Add to this the trademark Pacific islands weather and an astonishingly picturesque landscape, and you've got a recipe for an intoxicating cocktail of rough liquor and smooth coconut milk.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track