Surface area : 197.0 km2
Population : 57794 inhabitants
Things to take home: local handicraft (sarongs, embroidery, wickerwork, pottery, carved wood objects), mother-of-pearl jewels, perals, sea shells, spices, folk music recordings. People do not usually haggle. Shops are usually open from 9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 12pm on Saturdays.
Restaurants offer a great variety of cuisines - American, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Polynesian. You will also find plenty of fast-food and drive-in restaurants. Most traditional local dishes are made with taro, coconut, pork and chicken, fresh fruit and fish of course. The national drink is kava, an indescribable and perfectly bland liquor, once reserved to sacred rituals.
Sadly, the occupation of the archipelago by the Americans has reduced the traditional culture to nearly nothing, now often summed up as singing and dancing show at the hotels - the "fia-fia" and "sa-sa", where smiley locals sway their hips to flowery-shirted tourists. The Evangelist pastors' preaching must have been strongly imprinted on the Samoans' souls, who never fail to go to Sunday morning mass. Yet, one aspect has remained intact in the villages from the old society - the social mutual help and sharing within the aiga, or family in its broader sense, under a chief's rule, or matai, to whom everybody owes respect. Body tattoos, token of a rite for going into adulthood, are very often seen on the young.
American Samoa, for a long time, had the reputation to be an expensive holiday destination, reserved to a handful of well-off tourists. Things have changed nowadays, especially thanks to the now cheaper flights. It all depends, as well, on your living standards once there. If you choose to follow the local way of life, by staying in small boarding houses, eating in cheap eating houses and from market stands, using public buses and boats, your daily budget should not exceed £16. However, if you opt for the "Hollywoodian" big style exotic way of life under coconut trees, for the azure cocktails by the side of the swimming pool of a luxurious hotel drowned in tropical greenery and bordered by a private lagoon, for lobsters and champagne served by a white-gloved waiter, and for the chartered yacht to go diving on an atoll, the chances are your budget will quickly explode...