Samoa, officially the Independent State of Samoa and until 1997 known as Western Samoa, is a Polynesian island country consisting of two main islands, two smaller, inhabited islands, and several smaller, uninhabited islands, including the Aleipata Islands. The capital city is Apia. The Lapita people discovered and settled the Samoan Islands around 3,500 years ago. They developed a Samoan language and Samoan cultural identity.
Samoa is a unitary parliamentary democracy with eleven administrative divisions. The sovereign state is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Western Samoa was admitted to the United Nations on 15 December 1976. Because of the Samoans' seafaring skills, pre-20th-century European explorers referred to the entire island group as the "Navigator Islands.” The country was a colony of the German Empire from 1899 to 1915, then came under a joint British and New Zealand colonial administration until 1 January 1962, when it became independent.