The Samoan Islands or Samoa Islands is an archipelago covering 3,030 km2 (1,170 sq mi) in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania.
The population of the Samoan Islands is approximately 250,000, sharing a common language, Samoan, a culture, known as fa'a Samoa and an indigenous form of governance called fa'amatai.
Due to colonialism, the Samoa Islands and people were divided by Western powers. Today, politically the islands have two jurisdictions, the independent country of Samoa in the western half of the islands, and the territory of American Samoa comprising the islands to the east. The two regions are separated by 64 km of ocean. Most Samoans are full-blooded and are one of the largest Polynesian populations in the world.
The oldest date so far from prehistoric remains in the Samoan Islands has been calculated from archaeology in Samoa to a likely true age of circa 3,000 BP (before present) from a Lapita site at Mulifanua wharf on Upolu island.
In 1768, the eastern islands were visited by French explorer Bougainville, who named them the Navigator Islands, a name used by missionaries until about 1845 and in official European dispatches until about 1870