Samoa skips a day and crosses international dateline


Samoa, a small Pacific island nation, skipped a calendar day and crossed the international dateline on December 30, 2011. The tiny nation, which lies near the international dateline, left out December 31 and now stands on the same side of time as its biggest trading partners Australia, New Zealand and China.

This jump in time happened almost 120 years after Samoa had decided to align the island’s time with the United States. In the past years, however, trading has changed towards the Asia-Australia region. Up to December 30, 2011 Samoa was almost a day behind Australia and New Zealand, and 10 hours behind London, Europe’s finance centers.


The international dateline runs from north to south through the middle of the Pacific Ocean and separates one calendar day from the next. When a traveler crosses the dateline from west to east he skips a day.

Businessmen and companies in Samoa have claimed that they were experiencing disadvantages when trading with their neighbors to the west. When Samoans were still working on Fridays it was already Saturday in Australia and New Zealand. Another reason may be that many of Samoa’s citizens live on the Asian mainland or in Australia and New Zealand.


Tokelau, a small atoll that belongs to New Zealand, has also decided to accompany Samoa’s move across the dateline. It now claims to be first place in the world to start the day.




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  • accompany = go with; do the same as
  • align = here: to be the same with
  • atoll = a coral island that has the shape of a ring
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • cross = to move across
  • decide = choose
  • disadvantage = bad side of something
  • experience = here: have, suffer
  • however = but
  • international dateline = line through that runs from the North to the South Pole through the middle of the Pacific Ocean; it separates two calendar days
  • mainland = the main area of land, not the islands
  • separate = divide, split
  • skip = leave out
  • trade = to buy and sell things