Samoan Americans

This article is about Samoans in the United States. For American Samoans, see Demographics of American Samoa.
American Samoans
Total population
109,637 alone, 0.04% of U.S. population
184,440 including partial ancestry, 0.06%
(2010 Census)
Regions with significant populations
Alaska (Anchorage) · California (Southern California, San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey County) · Hawaii (Honolulu) · Utah (Salt Lake City) . Washington (King County, Tacoma)
American English, Samoan
Christian Congregational Church of Samoa, Roman Catholicism, Methodists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Related ethnic groups
Pacific Islanders, Samoan people, Samoan New Zealanders

American Samoans are Americans of Samoan origin, including those who migrated from the Independent State of Samoa and American Samoa to the United States. American Samoans are considered Pacific Islanders in the United States Census, and are the second largest Pacific Islander group in the U.S., after Native Hawaiians.

American Samoa has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1900, and Western Samoa, officially known as the Independent State of Samoa, is an independent nation that gained its independence from New Zealand in 1962. America Samoa and Samoa together make up the Samoan Islands, an archipelago that covers 1,170 sq mi (3,030 km2). Like Hawaiian Americans, the Samoans arrived in the mainland in the 20th century as agricultural laborers and factory workers.

There are more than 180,000 people of Samoan descent living stateside,[1] which is roughly the population of the Independent State of Samoa, which had an estimated population of 179,000 in 2009. Honolulu, Hawaii has the largest Samoan population, while Long Beach, California has the largest Samoan population in the mainland United States: one percent of the city's population, or 4,513 people, as of 2010. There are also significant Samoan communities throughout the state of California, and in Washington, Utah, and Alaska.


Since the end of World War II, persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens. For this reason, Samoans can move to Hawaii or the mainland United States and obtain citizenship comparatively easily. Many Samoans settled on the west coast of the U.S., as well as in Alaska and Hawaii, seeking better opportunities from their homeland.


There are 184,440 Samoan people in the United States stateside population, including those who have partial Samoan ancestry. 60,876 people of Samoan origin reside in California, meaning one-third of the Samoan population lives in California. Carson, Long Beach, Compton, in and Los Angeles County, have the highest concentration of Samoans in Southern California. Also in San Diego, CA, the very first Samoan church in the entire United States, which was founded in 1955 by Rev. Suitonu Galea'i. From there many of the Samoan churches branched from the First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Diego.[2][3][4] Garden Grove in Orange County has a Samoan community, as well as a church located off Century Boulevard. In Northern California, the Bayview-Hunters Point and Potrero Hill neighborhoods in San Francisco and San Leandro in the East Bay are home to sizable Samoan communities, as well as in Daly City, East Palo Alto, and Hayward, which all are at least 0.5% Samoan.[5] In Daly City, Samoan restaurants and businesses are located off Geneva Avenue. Smaller communities of Samoans can be found in Sacramento, Modesto and Stockton.

The SeattleTacoma, Washington area is also home to a sizable Samoan community, especially in the cities of SeaTac and Federal Way.[6] The First Samoan Christian Congregational Church was established in 1964 in southeast Seattle, where Samoans settled in the Pacific Northwest.[7] Nearly 6,000 people of Samoan ancestry reside in Pierce County, Washington, making up 0.7% of the county's population.[8] The Dalles, Oregon has a Samoan community as well. In Salt Lake City, Utah and surrounding cities, there is a large Samoan population of 13,086.[9] There is a Samoan community in Colorado Springs, Colorado,

In the Midwest, the largest Samoan community is in Independence, Missouri, where around 900 Samoan people reside (0.8% of the city).[8]

In the Eastern United States and Southeastern United States, Samoan communities exist in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Clarksville, Tennessee, and Norfolk, Virginia.[10]

In Texas, there is a Samoan community and Samoan church in the city of Killeen.

Outside the mainland U.S., many Samoan people have settled in Hawaii and Alaska. 1.8% of people in the city of Anchorage, Alaska are of Samoan descent. Alaska has a relatively high proportion of Samoan Americans, comprising about 0.8% of the state's population.[8]


Samoan Americans are well represented in many American sports such as football. Despite being a small ethnic group in the country, more than 30 NFL players are of Samoan descent. NFL players Troy Polamalu and Junior Seau, who were both born in the contiguous U.S., are among notable Samoan American NFL players.[11] The San Francisco 49ers has two Samoan Americans playing in Super Bowl XLVIIMike Iupati and Isaac Sopoaga.[12] Marcus Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and former Oregon Ducks quarterback, is of Samoan descent through his father.

Samoan Americans are also well represented in professional wrestling. Former 3 Times WWE heavyweight champion Roman Reigns is Samoan-American, and former WWE champions Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Rodney "Yokozuna" Anoa'i are also of Samoan origin. Other notable wrestlers of Samoan ancestry include Rikishi, his twin sons The Usos, and Samoa Joe. Samoan Americans can occasionally be found in other sports, such as basketball player Peyton Siva, who briefly played in the NBA before continuing his professional career in Europe.

In highly concentrated hip hop areas such as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Samoan Americans have also built up a reputation as highly skilled dancers and hip hop musicians. Suga Pop and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. are notable Samoan American hip hop acts. They have also been involved in the mainstream hip hop industry in other countries with sizable Samoan populations, such as New Zealand.[13]


  1. "Honolulu Mayor honors National Samoan Language Week". Samoa News. 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
  2. Sahagun, Louis (October 1, 2009). "Samoans in Carson hold church services for tsunami, earthquake victims". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  3. Mydans, Seth (June 4, 1992). "Police Officer in California Cleared in Shooting Deaths". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  4. Fuestch, Michelle (March 13, 1991). "Samoans Protest Killing of 2 Brothers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  5. Knight, Heather (March 1, 2006). "A YEAR AT MALCOLM X: Second Chance at Success Samoan families learn American culture". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  6. Brown, Charles E. (September 30, 2009). "Puget Sound's Samoan community awaits news". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  7. 1 2 3 "Census AmericanFactfinder". United States Census. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  8. "One of every four Tongans in U.S. calls Utah home". September 12, 2011.
  9. "Amata's Journal: Many Samoans in Norfolk area". Samoa News. May 25, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
  10. "Why are Samoans flocking to the NFL? Watch "60 Minutes" Sunday". CBS Sports. January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  11. Hoffman, Benjamin (January 31, 2013). "49ers' Star Run Blocker Is Content to Create Holes, Not Attention". New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2013.
  12. Henderson, April K. "Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora." In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 180-199. London; Ann Arbor, Michigan: Pluto Press, 200
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