Samoa, which was known as Western Samoa until 1997, is a Polynesian country that lies in the central South Pacific Ocean with two main islands called Savai’i and Upolu, and some smaller inhabited islands such as Manono and Apolima, the uninhabited islands of Namu’a, Nu’ulua, N’utele, Fanuatapu, and Nu’usafee. It is situated in the west of American Samoa, northeast of Tonga and Fiji, east of Wallis and Futuna, southeast of Tuvalu, northwest of Niue, and south of Tokelau. From 1899 until 1915, the archipelago was a settlement of the German Empire before it became a colony of the British and New Zealand administration.
The country’s economy has been based on agriculture, employing about two-thirds of the nation’s manpower. The agricultural sector also makes up 90% of exports including coconut, coconut oil, copra, coconut cream, and noni juice. Since 1950, services, and light manufacturing have been playing significant roles in the Samoan economy. The industrial sector has also the largest contribution to its GDP which accounts for 58.4% Additionally, Tourism has expanded with arrivals increasing over the years. The sector now contributes 25% of the Samoan GDP.
The Samoan tala is the legal tender of Samoa, divided into 100 sene. The tala and sene mean dollar and cent in the local language. Launched on July 10, 1967, the tala replaced the Western Samoan pound at a rate equal to the New Zealand dollar. Since 1975, the tala currency goes along with the supply and demand.
The first tala banknotes were released in 1967 bearing the country’s emblem on the obverse and Samoan icons and sceneries on the reverse. At the dawn of the 1970s, the Monetary Board of Western Samoa was established, taking over the responsibility of the issuance of notes. The monetary board issued another set of 1, 5, and 10-pound banknotes between 1980 and 1984. These notes reflect the national flag, locals, seascapes, and the coat of arms. Printed by De La Rue, these paper bills are protected solid security threads and a watermark that reveals an image of the nation’s first president, Malietoa Tanumafili II.
Since 1985, the Central Bank of Samoa took over the Monetary Board of Western Samoa. In 2008, a new set of banknotes was released in 5- 100 tala denominations. These notes were produced by De La Rue on a modern layout, more vibrant colors, and are equipped with new security elements such as Optiks security thread for the two largest denominations.