Samoa: Tremors in the tropics

By Dean Miller 16 August 2013
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The Samoan islands sit atop volcanic foundations, shaping majestic sights and a tight-knit way of life.

MY ROOM SHAKES ME me from sleep at 1.59am. Am I dreaming? No, there it is again – a strange sensation that’s made even more unsettling by the darkness.

I am in Samoa, a land where beauty and unforgiving natural forces are so intertwined it is often difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. This chain of volcanic islands in the central South Pacific, about 4000km north-east of Brisbane, is no stranger to natural disturbances that range from the relatively benign earthquake I’ve just experienced, to tsunamis, cyclones and intense volcanic activity.

Natural disasters: Samoa

In the face of such challenges, the Samoan people have a resilience vital to their personal, cultural and spiritual survival. One Samoan man described to me how he had to rebuild his house three times in a decade due to a string of cyclones. He explained, with a grin, that these and other similar episodes in Samoan history were simply “God’s will”.

Many Samoans believe this to be true, and it seems a great motivator for picking up the pieces and starting the arduous task of rebuilding.

Read more about the dramatic landscape and resilient people of Samoa in issue 116 (Sep/Oct) of Australian Geographic.