American Samoa became a U.S. territory by deed of cession, starting in 1900. The matai (local chiefs) of Tutuila, the largest island in American Samoa, ceded the island to the United States in 1900. Manu’a followed in 1904. Swain Island joined the territory in 1925 by an act of the Congress. Authority over American Samoa was initially placed with the U.S. Navy which oversaw the territory until 1951.
Authority was transferred to the Department of the Interior (DOI) in 1956 where it resides.
Even without an organic act or other explicit Congressional directive on governance, the people of American Samoa adopted their own constitution in 1967 and first constitutional elections were in 1977. Unlike citizens of other U.S. territories who are U.S. citizens, American Samoans are U.S. nationals. However, neither citizens nor nationals of U.S. territories vote in Federal elections and pay Federal taxes. American Samoa came under Federal minimum wage rules in 2007 and controls its own immigration and border matters.
Governor: Lolo M. Moliga (January 3, 2013)
Washington DC: 7,050 miles
Total population: 55,519 (2010)
GDP: $703 million ( BEA 2009)
Total payroll employment: 18,862 (2010)
Total government revenues: $211.2 million (FY 09)
About 90 percent of the land is communally owned by aiga. The existing tenure law on communal lands prohibits alienation of any real property except freehold land to any person whose blood is less that one-half Samoan. Unless the Governor approves the transfer in writing, it is unlawful for any matai of a Samoan family to alienate any family lands to any person or lease it for any term more than 55 years. ASG estimates that 1.5625 square miles of American Samoa's total area of 76.1 square miles are freehold land.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service of the U.S. Department of Justice does not exercise jurisdiction in American Samoa. No one may enter American Samoa unless he or she complies with certain entry requirements of the American Samoa Government. To enter the territory, a U.S. citizen or national must have in his or her possession: (1) a valid U.S. passport or certified birth certificate demonstrating his or her U.S. nationality and (2) a ticket for onward passage out of American Samoa or proof of employment in American Samoa.The requirements for an alien's entry into American Samoa mirror those for a U.S. citizen or national. In addition to a ticket for onward passage out of American Samoa, an alien must have in his or her possession a valid passport containing a photograph or fingerprint of the holder and authorizing him or her (1) to return to the country from where he or she came or (2) to enter some other country.Whether a U.S. citizen or national or an alien, once lawfully admitted, a tourist or business person may stay in American Samoa for up to thirty days. With the approval of the Attorney General of American Samoa, a tourist or business person may stay in American Samoa for thirty days beyond the initial thirty-day period. At the present time, the American Samoa Government does not require any vaccinations for entry into the territory.