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American Samoa Travel Guide

Money

U.S. dollars are used, and to avoid the hassle of changing money, non-U.S. residents should bring traveler's checks expressed in American currency.

American influence has introduced tipping to the upmarket restaurants of the territory. The local saying goes, "it's not only accepted, it's expected." There's no bargaining in markets or shops.

Communications

Because U.S. postal rates apply, American Samoa is a cheap place for airmailing parcels to the United States (sea mail takes about 30 days to reach Oakland, California, by container). The mail service is reported to be erratic, so mark all mail to or from Pago Pago "priority post." The U.S. postal code is 96799, and regular U.S. postage stamps are used.

Long-distance telephone calls to the United States are unexpectedly more expensive than from Apia. Evenings and weekends you'll be eligible for a discount amounting to a few pennies on overtime charges to the United States but not elsewhere. American Samoa telephone cards priced US$5, US$10, US$20 work out much cheaper than operator calls.

Blue Sky Communications at Pago Plaza also sells prepaid telephone cards. These cards can be used from any Touch-Tone phone and are available at many locations around Tutuila. Blue Sky's long distance rates are often lower than those quoted above—ask.

Local telephone calls from public telephones anywhere in American Samoa cost only US$.25 each and the phones do work—get back into the habit of using them. Yes, it's only US$.25 to call the Manu'a Group from Tutuila. Local calls from private residences are free.

American Samoa's telephone code is 684.

Media

The privately owned Samoa News, published daily except Sunday, has been around since the 1960s.

Channel 2 at government-operated KVZK-TV broadcasts PBS, CNN, and a couple of hours of local programming 0600-2400 daily (local programs are on in the evening) from 1900-2000. Catch CNN weekdays at 0600 to 1200, and KVZK local news weekdays at 1730. You can see the ABC world news weekdays at 1700, and the CBS nightly news weekdays at 1800. In 1995, satellite-generated cable television was introduced to the territory by two private companies, and although these cost about US$37 a month, 34 channels are accessible 24 hours a day.

Radio KSBS-FM at 92.1 MHz, broadcasts daily 0600-midnight, and you can pick it up everywhere on Tutuila. Throughout the day they play mostly island music and oldies, while in the evening there is also some top 40s for youthful listeners.

93KHJ-FM broadcasts hit music over 93.1 MHz 24 hours a day.