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Ta'u Island.JPG
Ta'u as seen from space
LocationSouthern Pacific Ocean
Coordinates14°14′S 169°28′W / 14.233°S 169.467°W / -14.233; -169.467Coordinates: 14°14′S 169°28′W / 14.233°S 169.467°W / -14.233; -169.467
Area44.31 km2 (17.11 sq mi)
Highest elevation931 m (3054 ft)
Highest pointLata Mountain
United States
Territory of the United StatesAmerican Samoa
Population790 (in 2010)

Taʻū is the largest island in the Manuʻa Group and the easternmost volcanic island of the Samoan Islands.[1] Taʻū is part of American Samoa. In the early 19th century, the island was sometimes called Opoun.

Taʻū is well known as the site where the American anthropologist Margaret Mead conducted her dissertation research in Samoa in the 1920s, where she published her findings in Coming of Age in Samoa. Ta’u is also home to the highest mountain in American Samoa, Mount Lata. It is home to 21 square kilometers (8.3 sq mi) of National Park lands and 3.9 km2 (1.5 sq mi) of waters separated by some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world.[2]

On the western coast of Taʻū are the conterminous villages of Lumā and Siufaga, commonly jointly called Taʻū village.[3] The village of Taʻū has been named the capital of the Manu'a Islands. Fitiuta is another Taʻū village, located on the northeast side of the island.[4]


The island is the eroded remnant of a hotspot shield volcano with a caldera complex or collapse feature (Liu Bench) on the south face. The summit of the island, called Lata Mountain, is at an elevation of 931 m (3,054 ft), making it the highest point in American Samoa. The last known volcanic eruption in the Manuʻa Islands was in 1866, on the submarine ridge that extends west-northwest towards nearby Ofu-Olosega.[5]

The largest airport in the Manuʻa Islands is on the northeast corner of Taʻū at Fitiʻuta. There is also a private airport. A boat harbor is located at Faleāsao at the northwestern corner of the island. A roadway along the north coast connects all of the several inhabited villages between Taʻū on the west and Fitiʻuta.

All of the southeastern half of Taʻū—including all of the rainforest on top of Lata Mountain and within the caldera—the southern shoreline, and associated coral reefs are part of the National Park of American Samoa. The park includes the ancient, sacred site of Saua, considered to be the birthplace of the Polynesian people.

Administratively, the island is divided into three counties: Faleasao County, Fitiuta County, and Ta'u County. Along with Ofu and Olosega islands, Taʻū Island comprises the Manua District of American Samoa. The land area of Taʻū Island is 44.31 km2 (17.11 sq mi) and it had a population of 873 persons as of the 2000 census and of 790 persons in the 2010 census.

In 2000, a subsea volcano 48 km (30 mi) from Taʻū Island was discovered by scientists. Rockne Volcano has formed an undersea mountain which is 4,300 m (14,000 ft) tall. Its peak is 5,500 m (18,000 ft) below the ocean surface.[6]

Anthropological research[edit]

Taʻū is where the 23-year-old anthropologist Margaret Mead conducted her dissertation research in Samoa in the 1920s, published in 1928 as Coming of Age in Samoa. In her work, she studied adolescent teenage girls and compared their experience to those of Western societies. She concluded that adolescence was a smooth transition, not marked by the emotional or psychological distress, anxiety, or confusion seen in the United States.[7]


Until 2016, being a small and isolated island, the island relied on costly and polluting diesel generators to supply electricity. However, with the construction of a solar array, battery storage system, and microgrid, the island's power relies almost 100% from the sun.[8][9] The solar array was built by SolarCity and now includes sixty Tesla Powerpacks. The system should be a more reliable source of energy and was designed to power the entire island for three days without sunlight and fully recharge in seven hours.[10]


  1. ^ Hills, J.W. (2010). O upu muamua i le Tala i le Lalolagi mo e ua faatoa a'oa'oina u lea mataupu: Elementary Geography. Nabu Press. Page 62. ISBN 9781147952896.
  2. ^ https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/smo/smoinfo.html
  3. ^ Gray, John Alexander Clinton (1980). Amerika Samoa. Arno Press. Page 121. ISBN 9780405130380.
  4. ^ Hills, J.W. (2010). O upu muamua i le Tala i le Lalolagi mo e ua faatoa a'oa'oina u lea mataupu: Elementary Geography. Nabu Press. Page 63. ISBN 9781147952896.
  5. ^ "Ta'u". Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution.
  6. ^ Sunia, Fofo I.F. (2009). A History of American Samoa. Amerika Samoa Humanities Council. Page 355. ISBN 9781573062992.
  7. ^ Mead, Margaret (1928). Coming of Age in Samoa. William Morrow Paperbacks. pp. XIII-XV. ISBN 978-0688050337. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  8. ^ https://www.engadget.com/2016/11/22/tesla-runs-island-on-solar-power/
  9. ^ http://www.americansamoa.gov/aspa-solar
  10. ^ Heathman, Amelia. "This island is powered entirely by solar panels and batteries thanks to Solarcity". Wired. Retrieved 23 November 2016.

External links[edit]