Samoa. According to countryaah, Apia is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Samoa. Samoa is often hit by tropical hurricanes, and in February the capital of the Apia was feared to get in the way of the powerful Hurricane Olaf. But Samoa avoided a direct hit and the damage was limited to destroyed fields, power lines and trees.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym WSM stands for the country of Samoa and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
During the year, the Samoa government raised high hopes for a new agreement with the University of California in the United States, which would give Samoa half of the revenue from a gene research project on prostratin, a substance that can expose hidden HIV-infected cells. Prostratin is extracted from the inner bark of the mammalian tree (Homalanthus nutans) in Samoa, and access is limited. Therefore, American scientists hope to be able to clone genes from the tree and graft them into bacteria and then synthesize the drug.
Despite the constitutional change of January 1990 – which with the introduction of universal suffrage should have reduced the power of the clan leaders – the political life of the country continued to be strongly conditioned by the traditional hierarchies, and the parties themselves (especially the two most important, the centrist Party for the Protection of Human Rights, ruling since 1982, and the Conservative National Development Party of Samoa) remained tied to family and local interests of the past. The inadequacy of this power structure compared to a country that was transforming and partly modernizing, together with a backward economic situation and seriously compromised by the massive damage caused by the two devastating cyclones of February 1990 and of December 1991, contributed to the birth of a vast movement of social opposition. Following the introduction in January 1994 of a value added tax that caused a significant increase in fuel and food prices, the country was hit by anti-government protests and popular demonstrations. While the opposition strengthened and gave birth to new parties, the ruling class was hit by serious accusations of corruption: to curb this phenomenon, in April 1996 a new law was introduced which established a rigid legal distinction between the traditional system of the exchange of gifts and the increasingly widespread practice of the exchange vote. Despite these various signs of crisis, the traditional ruling class nevertheless showed considerable resistance: the Party for the Protection of Human Rights, although hit by a significant decline in consensus, in fact emerged victorious in the elections of April 1996, thus maintaining the reins of the government under the leadership of the leader Tofilau Eti Alesana, replaced at the end of 1998 for health reasons by party colleague Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
In foreign policy, the country maintained its traditional privileged relationship with New Zealand, while the threat of the greenhouse effect prompted it to participate in numerous international and regional initiatives for environmental control (starting with the United Nations International Summit, which met for the first time in 1992).