The primary use of the term Oceania is to describe a continental region (like Europe or Africa) that lies between Asia and the Americas, with Australia as the major land mass. The name Oceania is used, rather than Australasia, because unlike the other continental groupings, it is the ocean rather than the continent that links the nations together. Oceania is the smallest continental grouping in land area and the second smallest, after Antarctica, in population.
The Samoas are of volcanic origin and the total land area is 2934 km², consisting of the two large islands of Upolu and Savai'i which account for 96% of the total land area, and eight small islets. The main island of Upolu is home to nearly three-quarters of Samoa's population of 177,714 (Jul 2004 est) and its capital city is Apia.
The atoll consists of an extensive reef, two shallow lagoons, and some 50 sand and reef-rock islets and bars covered with vegetation—mostly coconut trees, Scaevola, and tall Pisonia trees. The islets of the atoll are all connected, except Sand Island and the two Home Islets in the west and Barren Island in the east. Average annual rainfall is approximately 175 in (4,400 mm) per year. Daytime temperatures average 85 °F (29 °C) year round.