Samoa mulls change to timezone
The country is considering the change so it falls to the west of the international dateline, bringing its clocks closer to major trading partners in Australasia.
Wed, May 04, 2011 at 12:10 PM
TIME: Currently, Samoa sits to the east of the international dateline — which runs through the middle of the Pacific — meaning that it is 11 hours behind GMT and is one of the last places on Earth to see out the day. (Photo: jupiterimages)
Samoa is reportedly considering switching timezones so it falls to the west of the international dateline, bringing the country's clocks closer to major trading partners in Australasia.
Currently, Samoa sits to the east of the international dateline — which runs through the middle of the Pacific — meaning that it is 11 hours behind GMT and is one of the last places on Earth to see out the day.
The time difference puts it 21 hours behind eastern Australia and 23 behind New Zealand, two of its biggest trading partners, which are also home to the large expatriate Samoan communities.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said his government had studied the implications of switching timezones and, while no decision had yet been made, early indications were favourable.
"There appears to be overwhelming reasons for a time zone change," he told the Samoa Observer.
"I will elaborate further on this issue in the near future."
Tuilaepa has already introduced changes to bring Samoa into line with Australia and New Zealand, enacting a law in 2009 that meant cars switched to driving on the left-hand side of the road, rather than the right.
He said at the time that the change make it easier for the 170,000 Samoans living in Australia and New Zealand to send used cars back home to their relatives.
Samoa originally lay to the west of the dateline, according to a history of the international marker on the website of the Institute for History and Foundations of Science at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
It moved to the east in 1892, so it would be closer to U.S. time, making the change on July 4 so it marked U.S. Independence Day twice that year.
The website says the most recent dateline change was enacted by Kiribati, which switched timezones to the west in 1995 to avoid different parts of its territory straddling the dateline, meaning they were on different days.
Any change in Samoa would not affect American Samoa, which is an unincorporated U.S. territory independent of Apia.
Copyright 2011 AFP Global Edition