Modern Samoa came into existence when it achieved independence from New Zealand in 1962 under a constitution which had been created in 1960.

Formally known as Western Samoa it was a constitutional monarchy with three joint Heads of State, being the three paramount chiefs at the time of independence. The shortened name of Samoa came into being in 1997 and the country became a republic when the last of the paramount chiefs died in 2007.

There have been general elections in Samoa since 1948. After independence there have been 13 general elections, the most recent in 2006.

The governing party, apart from two short breaks, since 1982 has been the Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP). Over the years there have been a number of smaller parties which have emerged and merged but none has, as yet, been able to challenge the HRPP.

Western Samoa consists of two main islands and a number of smaller islands in the Pacific Ocean halfway between New Zealand and Hawai’i.

The Head of State is elected by the Legislative Assembly to serve a five year term.

Samoa has a unicameral Legislative Assembly of 49 seats – 47 members in six two-seat and 35 single-seat constituencies and 2 members by the non-Samoan nationals.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2014 places Samoa at joint 50th out of 174 countries with a CPI 2014 score of 52 (where 10 is least corrupt).