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    Federated States of Micronesia: Overlooking some islands. Go Now!

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    This diverse country stretches for thousands of miles and has the diversity to prove it, including the people from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap among others. Begin Your Journey!

  • Samoa!

    Samoa: A traditional home. Go Now!

    Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match. Begin Your Journey!

Architecture of Samoa

Samoan Architecture - Home on the water
Home on the water

Samoa has a more diverse and established architecture than most of the South Pacific, and Samoa lent their styles to much of the region as it was from Samoa that many of the islands of Polynesia were settled. However, most buildings, both in the past and today, are constructed of wood so have not lasted over time. Despite this, many buildings are still built in the historic style, sometimes in very authentic forms, while at other times only in stylistic designs as the buildings are truly modern.

Most of the early and more authentic architecture found in Samoa today can be found in the homes of the people. This was nearly the only type of construction for years and all later architecture is based on the traditional homes. These homes (also known as fale), tend to be round and open. These homes were made of local woods and tied together with coconut fibers. They are usually built a couple feet off the ground (1 meter) on poles with open sides, like windows, and a thatched roof. These houses take on a circular shape (if viewed from above) because Tagaloa (the main god in the historic religion, which is rarely practiced today) told the people to build houses in the shape of heaven, which is round. Other aspects of the houses, including direction and seating are also focused on social order and significance, making their traditional homes very representative of their culture. The open walls also assist in keeping the houses cool on hot days.

The buildings expanded in size and use over time as every village had a big house that hosted meetings and later chiefs gained enough power and money to build significantly larger houses. With the arrival of the Europeans and their extensive building materials, the houses have continued to change. Today numerous decorational aspects have been added, building materials have changed, and many houses and buildings today are rectangular as it eases the construction process and costs. Blinds are also common today, which are called pola, as they provide some privacy and protection from the winds and rains.

Despite the changes, the structure and style remain very similar today due to tradition, costs, and appeal. Many people can't afford modern buildings so choose to build a traditional fale, while the tourism industry has discovered the appeal of the style to foreigners so many hotels are built in the same design, although they are made with concrete and they have walls and modern amenities.

Although the arrival of the Europeans changed the fale, it also introduced new structures. Most of the earliest structures built in the European style were churches as missionaries had a significant presence on the islands in their early recorded history. In more recent times more modern buildings have been constructed as well, although few buildings boast much architectural significance or ornamentation.

This page was last updated: May, 2014