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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (October 15, 1997 - Samoa News)--- Government's official estimate of the population of American Samoa is 59,600, but the actual population is anybody's guess, says the Samoa News.

The official estimate is a guesstimate, based on some assumptions. The estimate is primarily based on the 1990 census, and the 1980 census.

While the local statisticians can track how many people are born and how many people die, they cannot keep track of how many people move to and from American Samoa.

So they guess, based on what happened in the 1980's. And what happened in the 1980's is that every year during that decade, about 180 more people moved into American Samoa than moved out of the territory. Therefore, the statisticians add 180 to the natural increase in order to form an official estimate.

Natural increase is computed by subtracting deaths from births.

The number of births at the Lyndon B. Johnson Medical Center has been dropping, and dropping substantially, for the past five years, despite population growth.

In 1993, the number of births peaked at almost 2,000, but in the most recent year, only about 1,600 babies were born locally, a drop of 20%.

That is the same number of babies as were born in American Samoa in 1987, when the population of the island was 19,000 fewer.

Thus the crude birth rate (births per 1,000 persons) has dropped from 39 in 1987 to only 27 in 1997, a remarkable drop of 31%. This might be because fewer women have babies, or women have fewer babies, or because there are fewer non-residents ( e.g. from Samoa) who go to Pago Pago for a short period just to give birth.

Deaths, on the other hand, have been increasing slowly each year, consistent with the growth in the population.

The next census will be conducted in the year 2000.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to >

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