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By Lewis Wolman

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 9, 2000 - Samoa News/PINA Nius Online)---The National Park of American Samoa is a secret no more.

In the July 2000 issue of National Geographic, the world-renowned magazine devotes 17 pages of text and photos to the charms of the relatively unknown national park.

The article, entitled "The Samoan Way," states that our "new U.S. National Park preserves a pristine tropical ecosystem."

The NPAS is "one of the newest, most unusual and least unfamiliar additions to the National Park system," but now that it has been featured in National Geographic, millions of people who had never heard of it have become at least a little familiar with the park and the territory.

Besides the tropical rain forest and the coral reefs that form the 10,500-acre park, the article notes that "the crafts, customs and knowledge that define fa'a Samoa, the Samoan way, are among this park's most valuable living resources."

The article estimates that fewer than 500 non-local tourists visit the park each year, and quote local park and political leaders as expressing no great concern with the low number of visitors.

Park officials know mass tourism could place undue pressure on the park and overwhelm the low-key atmosphere of the islands as a whole.

In the article, Governor Tauese Sunia says, "We have a fixed amount of land, yet our population is booming. We have to preserve the resources of this territory, and the park is the best way to do this. Whether anyone comes to visit or not is secondary."

Congressman Eni Faleomavaega concurs: "I look at the Park Service as a vehicle for keeping as much as we can of Samoan learning and Samoan culture. I don't want quick development that will kill us."

Items 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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