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Samoa Skips a Day to Cross Time Zone

Flag Map of SamoaSamoa, a Pacific island nation, and Tokelau, a smaller neighbouring island territory of New Zealand, have decided to skip Friday and jump right from Thursday to Saturday. Simply put, instead of it being Friday in these nations as usual, it’s Saturday instead. This comes as the countries decided to shift onto the west side of the international date line to balance its economy with its Asian-Pacific neighbours.

The time change was officially decided in June and means that Samoa is now aligned with its trading partners in Asia. However, its work days have been stretched further from its past dominating economic country, the US. The islands’ citizens have been promised a paid day of work for missing Friday.

Samoa has been in a different time zone than its Asian-Pacific neighbours since 1892, when traders from America convinced the country to shift from the western side of the international date line to the eastern side so that business could be facilitated between them and the US’s West Coast. This shift was done on the American Independence Day holiday, which allowed Samoans to celebrate it twice. This new shift will happen at midnight, and the new time zone will put the island three hours ahead of eastern Australia instead of 21 hours behind. This means the country will now be 22 hours ahead of the US’s Pacific time zone, rather than 2 hours behind.

Due to the change, some in the tourism industry aren’t too thrilled. Samoa has long been the only place on Earth to see the sunset first. However, now it will have to be marketed at the first place on Earth to see the sunrise.

Samoa prime minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi recognised the new time gap from the US, but he says the move will allow them to do business much easier with Australia and New Zealand, whose economies become more and more linked with the rest of Asia – especially China. They are losing out on two work days every week in the old time zone. It’s Saturday in New Zealand when it’s Friday in Samoa, and they are conducting business in Brisbane and Sydney on Monday when Samoans are at church on Sunday. They do more business with Australia, New Zealand, China and other countries in the Pacific Rim more nowadays, he added.

Shifting time zones by decree isn’t new in the Pacific, as several nations have shifted time zones, dates and daylight saving times since the turn of the century. Aside from this recent change, Samoa also took steps two years ago to align itself with Australia and New Zealand by putting motorists on the left side of the road instead of the right. The prime minister said that the move would make it easier for Samoans in the neighbouring countries to send used cars to relatives.

 

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