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For tiny Samoa, a great leap forward in time

December 28, 2011, will not be a red-letter day for Samoans. In fact, it will not be a day at all.

Samoa, currently positioned to the east of the International Date Line, has decided to forego a day and shift to the time zone on its west to facilitate trade with Australia and New Zealand.

The island nation in the South Pacific is currently 21 hours behind both countries — effectively meaning a loss of “two working days a week” with them — but it is now set to go three hours ahead.

The “shift” will take effect on December 27 this year. At midnight, when it will be 9 p.m. on December 28 in Sydney, clocks in Apia, the capital of Samoa, will jump to 00:00 of December 29.

“There appear to be overwhelming reasons for a time zone change,” Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi told the Samoan Observer.

The decision to adhere with the eastern side of the date line was purportedly taken 119 years ago, to make business with the United States and Europe easier. Now, as the volume of trade with their neighbouring countries has surged, Samoans have decided to go “back to the future.”

The International Date Line, which slices the Pacific Ocean in two, is an imaginary line along the 180 degree longitude that separates two calendar dates.

To avoid cutting through nations, the line zigzags along their sides; but for tiny island countries like Samoa, it presents a peculiar problem. Midway between New Zealand and Hawaii, Samoa is virtually forced to choose its date, ensuring that the country loses valuable working days with one side or the other.

But a decision has now been made to hop to the other side, literally.

“Difficulties in communication and business dealings with Australia and New Zealand have resulted,” the Samoan Cabinet said, justifying the shift. However, for islanders born on December 28, it's going to be a long wait for their next birthday.


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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 8:52:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/for-tiny-samoa-a-great-leap-forward-in-time/article2004549.ece

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