Samoa may change time zone

2011-05-04T12:00:00Z

After switching driving sides in September 2009 to be able to drive on the same side as its major regional trading partners New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Tonga do, the Samoan government is considering joining their time zone as well.<!--more-->Samoa falls to the east of the international dateline making it the last country on earth to watch the day’s sun set. Though just four hours flying time away from New Zealand its location with respect to the dateline puts the country 23 hours behind New Zealand and 21 hours behind eastern Australia, two countries in which sizeable numbers of Samoans live and work.

Samoa has had the present time zone since July 4, 1892, before which it followed an Asian time zone, four hours ahead of Japan. That change gave the country two days more than the normal year in 1892, having put the clock back by nearly 24 hours and adding February 29, which was leap year. 1892 in Samoa, therefore, had 367 days. The additional day was dated July 4, the American Independence Day.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told the media recently that the government had studied the possibility of changing the time zone, currently 10 hours behind GMT, and that initial findings were favourable to its plans for the change.

The country had an opportunity to change the time zone in the millennium year, when fellow Pacific Island Forum member Kiribati swung the dateline the other way so that one of its islands (the uninhabited Caroline Atoll) could become the first one from where to watch the sun rise on the new millennium.

The ploy didn’t turn out to be the commercial success Kiribati’s tourism department had hoped for, but it definitely made it an important and interesting entry for the history books.

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