International

Samoa Decides To Leap International Date Line Into The Future

Monday or Tuesday, the beach is still beautiful in Apia, Samoa. i i

Monday or Tuesday, the beach is still beautiful in Apia, Samoa. Hannah Johnston/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
Monday or Tuesday, the beach is still beautiful in Apia, Samoa.

Monday or Tuesday, the beach is still beautiful in Apia, Samoa.

Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

For 119 years, Samoa saw the last sunset of every day. Now, the Samoan government has decided to jump the International Date Line 24 hours into the future, joining Australia and New Zealand.

The way it works now, when it's 8 a.m. Sunday in Samoa, it's 8 a.m. Monday in neighboring Tonga. Samoa initially decided to be on the U.S. side of the date line because it did business with traders in California. Things have changed, reports The Guardian:

Samoa has found its interests lying more with the Asia-Pacific region and now wants to switch back to the west side of the international dateline, which runs roughly north-to-south along the 180-degree line of longitude in the Pacific Ocean.

"In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we're losing out on two working days a week," said the prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

The AFP reports that Malielegaoi didn't announce when the change would happen. In 2009, Samoa also made another pretty significant change: The government passed a law in 2009 that made drivers switch from driving on the right-hand side of the road to driving on the left-hand side.

Malielegaoi said the change would make it easier for Samoans living in New Zealand and Australia to send cars back home. Critics, reports The Guardian, charged it would cause chaos. The transition, however, was pretty seamless.

Malielegaoi also said the change could be marketed by telling tourists they could experience a day two times, if they start in Samoa, then head to the past in American Samoa. As we mentioned, prior to this change Samoa was the place farthest into the past. The change, however, will not make it the place farthest into the future, or the place to see the world's first sunrise everyday. Because the international dateline allows countries to make their own decision as to what side they'd like to be on, it's not perfectly straight and one of the Kiribati islands is as far East as 150°. According to the Navy, that's farther east than Honolulu.

Update at 4:10 p.m. ET: The government didn't release any details on how the transition would happen. But the AFP reports that in 1892, when Samoa made the change to be closer to U.S. time, it celebrated July 4 twice that year.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.