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Samoa, Land and Resources

Samoa is made up of nine islands with a total land area of 2,831 sq km (1,093 sq mi). The two largest islands, Savai‘i (1,709 sq km/660 sq mi) and Upolu (1,114 sq km/430 sq mi), comprise more than 99 percent of the land. They are of volcanic origin and their mountainous interiors are covered with dense rain forests that contain valuable hardwood trees. The surrounding landscape consists of fertile plateaus and coastal plains with numerous rivers and streams. Samoa’s seven smaller islands are Apolima, Manono, Fanuatapu, Nu‘ulopa, Nu‘utele, Nu‘ulua, and Nu‘usafee, of which only Apolima and Manono are inhabited. Mount Silisili, on Savai‘i, is the country’s highest peak with an elevation of 1,858 m (6,096 ft).

The climate is tropical with high temperatures and humidity. Apia, which lies on the northern coast of Upolu, has an average daily temperature range of 21° to 31°C (70° to 88°F), with little seasonal variation, and an average annual precipitation of 2,850 mm (112 in). Most rainfall occurs on the windward southern sides of the islands, however, where the annual precipitation can range from 5,080 mm (200 in) to 7,110 mm (280 in). The heaviest rainfall occurs between the months of November and April, and cyclones, which are relatively frequent, are most likely to occur during these same months.

A large percentage of the country’s plants and birds are not found elsewhere. Deforestation is reducing wildlife habitats and leading to soil erosion. Both Savai‘i and Upolu are almost entirely surrounded by coral reefs, as are several smaller islands. The reefs are threatened by the dumping of raw sewage and increased sedimentation from soil erosion and coastal developments. Lagoons near Apia are polluted with raw sewage, and water is in increasingly short supply in some areas.


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