Since July 4, 1892, Samoa has been one of the last places on Earth to experience the beginning of a given day, as on that date it set its time zone to UTC-11, its rationale being that this would make commerce with Americans easier.
But now, the country’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, wants Samoa to be one of the first countries in the world to turn its calendars to a given date: On December 29th, Samoa will effectively travel forward in time by a day, jumping from UTC-11 to UTC+13.
The reason, as it was 119 years ago, is commerce: Now, nearby Australia and New Zealand have emerged as Samoa’s strongest trading partners, and it’s rather inconvenient to do business with countries that are so close by when one’s island is a day behind.
“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.
“While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church on Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.”
There’s even a tourism spin on the decision: Malielegaoi told press that thanks to ease of travel to nearby American Samoa, which will continue to abide by the UTC-11 time zone, travelers will be able to experience the same date twice following the change: “You can have two birthdays, two weddings and two wedding anniversaries on the same date – on separate days – in less than an hour’s flight across [the ocean], without leaving the Samoan chain.”
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