Cultural Overview

Samoa's kinship system is generational (the Hawaiian kinship system). All aunts and uncles, no matter how distant, are called by the terms for mother and father. All cousins are called by the terms for brother and sister. Younger relatives are often simply called tei. Samoans trace ancestry back as far as oral traditions and, today, written records make possible. This genealogical penchant means that the circle of one's fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and younger relatives is potentially very large.

Politically, Samoa is organized in a chiefly system. Chiefs are of two varieties: talking chiefs and high chiefs. Talking chiefs have oratorical responsibilities and are of lower rank than high chiefs; however, some talking-chief titles are more exalted in status than some high-chief titles. Matai is a general term for chief and the chiefly system is called the matai system. Every extended family has a matai. In the village, the various matai meet regularly to decide village affairs. Both Samoas have universal suffrage. The easterly islands have an elected legislature and governor. The westerly islands have an elected head of state and legislature, as well as a prime minister and cabinet appointed by the head of state with approval by the legislature.

Traditionally, Samoa had a horticultural subsistence economy. People cultivated taro, as well as breadfruit, coconuts, papaya, bananas, pineapples, yams, mangos, and a number of other tropical fruits and vegetables. They deep-sea fished for bonito and reef fished for shoreline species, as well as octopus, sea cucumber, jelly fish, and other reef inhabitants. They ate a number of wild seaweeds. Males did the deep-sea fishing; females participated in reef fishing. Samoans also raised chickens and pigs.

Today, many people maintain their roles in the subsistence economy and may supplement these roles with income from a job in an urban area (Apia in the westerly islands and the Pago Pago harbor area in the easterly islands), income from a village store, surplus agricultural production, or remittances from overseas relatives. Men are better represented in high-paying jobs in government and business, but women constitute a significance presence in both.

Since colonialization in the 19th century, exported production of coconuts and other agricultural commodities has become an important source of income. In the westerly islands, agriculture continues to employ two thirds of the labor force and is the source of 90% of the exports. Along with other forms of manufacturing, the westerly islands produce a good beer, Vailima. The easterly islands have tuna factories supplied by U.S., Taiwanese, and South Korean vessels. In the 19th century, Apia and Pago Pago were ports for whalers, traders, and adventurers. Around the turn of the century, Apia and Pago Pago became depots for cruise liners. Apia and Pago Pago were trans-Pacific refueling stations between California and Australia prior to the use of jumbo jets, ensuring a supply of tourists. The westerly islands have again become a popular tourist destination, particularly for visitors from New Zealand and Australia. Today, development aid and family remittances are important sources of income.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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