Division of islandsThe Samoa Tripartite Convention, a joint commission of three members composed of Bartlett Tripp for the United States, C. N. E. Eliot, C.B. for Great Britain, and Freiherr Speck von Sternburg for Germany, agreed to divide the islands.
The Tripartite Convention gave control of the islands west of 171 degrees west longitude to Germany, (later known as Western Samoa), containing Upolu and Savaii (the current Samoa) and other adjoining islands. These islands became known as German Samoa. The United States accepted the eastern islands of Tutuila and Manu'a, (present-day American Samoa). In exchange for United Kingdom ceding claims in Samoa, Germany transferred their protectorates in the North Solomon Islands and other territories in West Africa. The monarchy was also abolished.
IndependenceMau movement ("opinion movement"), Western Samoans began to assert their claim to independence. The early beginnings of the national Mau movement began in 1908 with the 'Mau a Pule' resistance on Savai'i, led by orator chief Lauaki Namulau'ulu Mamoe. Lauaki and Mau a Pule chiefs, wives and children were exiled to Saipan in 1909. Many died in exile.
Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, in August 1914, New Zealand sent an expeditionary force to seize and occupy German Samoa. Although Germany refused to officially surrender the islands, no resistance was offered and the occupation took place without any fighting. New Zealand continued the occupation of Western Samoa throughout World War I. In 1919, under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany relinquished its claims to the islands.
The Mau movement gained momentum with Samoa's royal leaders becoming more visible in supporting the peoples movement but strongly opposed violence. On 28 December 1929 Tupua Tamasese was shot along with eleven others during a peaceful demonstration in Apia. Tupua Tamasese died the following day, with the advice that no more blood should be shed.
New Zealand administered Western Samoa first as a League of Nations Mandate and then as a United Nations trusteeship until the country received its independence on 1 January 1962 as Western Samoa. Samoa's first prime minister following independence was paramount chief Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II.
Samoa was the first Polynesian people to be recognized as a sovereign nation in the 20th century. In 1977, Queen Elizabeth II visited the Samoa during her tour of the Commonwealth.
In July 1997 the constitution was amended to change the country's name from "Western Samoa" to "Samoa." Samoa had been known simply as "Samoa" in the United Nations since joining the organization in 1976. The neighboring U.S. territory of American Samoa protested the move, feeling that the change diminished its own Samoan identity. American Samoans still use the terms "Western Samoa" and "Western Samoans."
In 2002, New Zealand's prime minister Helen Clark formally apologized for two incidents during the period of New Zealand's administration: a failure in 1918 to quarantine the SS Talune, which carried the 'Spanish 'flu' to Samoa, leading to an epidemic which devastated the Samoan population, and the shooting of leaders of the non-violent Mau movement during a ceremonial procession in 1929.
In 2007, Samoa's first Head of State, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, died at the age of 95. He held this title jointly with Tupua Tamasese Lealofi until his death in 1963. The late Malietoa Tanumafili II was Samoa's Head of State for 45 years. He was the son of Malietoa Tanumafili I, who was the last Samoan king recognized by Europe and the Western World.
Samoa's current Head of State is His Highness Tui-Atua Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Efi, who was anointed the Head of State title with the unanimous endorsement of Samoa's Parliament. A symbol of traditional Samoan protocol in alignment with Samoan decision making stressing the importance of consensus in the 21st century.