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Pacific Island loses Dec 30

December 29, 2011 - SAMOA

Samoa slips east to west across the dateline on Dec 29, losing Dec 30 until the next time the nation's leaders decides to fiddle with the calendar. They did it 119 years ago, deciding it was better to align Samoa with United States interests. In 2011 they see Australasian trade more in keeping with Samoa's interests. The change aligns the island with distant Australasia while separating it from nearby American Samoa by a calendar day. And in 2009, the leaders changed sides on Samoa's roads.

The change means Samoa will fo from Dec 29 straight to Dec 31. The international dateline runs through the middle of the Pacific. Samoa is on its east, at present 11 hours behind GMT and 21 hours behind eastern Australia and 23 behind New Zealand. The change will put the island three hours ahead of Sydney. Two of Samoa's biggest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand are home to large expatriate Samoan communities. In 2009, Samoa became the first country since the 1970s to change the side of the road on which cars are driven. The Samoan government introduced the change to end its reliance on expensive, left-hand drive imports from the United States. American Samoa, US territory, is staying on Samoa Standard Time and will remain the last place on Earth to see the sunset. Visitors to the Samoan islands will now be able to celebrate the same day twice, by hopping between Samoa and American Samoa, which are an hour's flight apart, opening up a tourism selling point -; the ability to celebrate special events like birthdays twice. In 1892, Samoans twice celebrated Jul 4. ;

Samoa goes back to the future as it slips across dateline to boost economy (Telegraph 9 May 2011)

Samoa mulls change to international dateline (AFP 3 May 2011)

Samoa switches to driving on left (BBC 8 Sep 2009)

Date written/update: 2011-12-29