Samoa

In tropical Samoa (known as Western Samoa until 1997), founded on New Year’s Day in 1962. About 191,000 people live here (2013), and the official languages are English and Samoan. Most Samoans are Christian, Catholic, or some other Christian denomination. Its main exports are coconut oil, beef, copra, timber, kava, and cocoa. The time zone is 19 hours ahead of EST.

Visited the capital, Apia, in 2017 where amazing historic cathedrals, temples, and museums can be explored. Also nearby are various beaches, waterfront activities, and scuba diving and snorkeling locations, with the stunning Piula cave pool only 45 minutes away for those willing to travel out a little. Apia features a historic village as well, as Apia was given its name based on a small village named Apia that first inhabited the area. An interesting story about this capital is that its harbor is the site of a famous standoff between seven ships from Germany, Britain, and the U.S. No ship would leave the harbor first despite a typhoon approaching, as this would seem “wimpy” and make the first ship to leave lose face. All ships sunk except for Calliope, a British ship that barely managed to escape the typhoon.

One unique fact about Samoa is that it has its own ancient pyramid, the largest and oldest one in Polynesia. Also interesting is that it is culturally acceptable to, when there are too many sons in the family, raise one of the sons as though he is a daughter. The word for these “daughters” is  Fa’afafine. An amazing fact is that Samoa and American Samoa are separated by the International Date Line (which does not go in a straight line), meaning that Samoa is 25 hours ahead of American Samoa despite them being next to each other!

 

Saudi Arabia

At a local home in Riyadh, in the men's salon Country Information: In the desert country of Saudi Arabia, the capital is Riyadh. There are approximately 30,000,000 people living here. The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The majority of the population...

Colombia

The northern tip of South America, Colombia, a tropical and isothermal (relatively stable temperatures) country founded in 1810. The population is over 47.12 million (2013) and the capital is Bogotá, the center of South America’s largest network of bicycle routes at...

São Tomé and Príncipe

Typical streetscape in São Tomé Country Information: São Tomé and Príncipe is a volcanic chain close to the equator off the coast of western Africa.. The capital is São Tomé and the country’s population is about 250,000 people. The primary language is Portuguese, and...