The South Pacific nation of Samoa, which straddles the international dateline, will skip tomorrow to align its calendar with nearby trading partners Australia and New Zealand.
Samoa, with less than 200,000 people, will move straight into New Year’s Eve at midnight, according to a statement on the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour’s website. The country has lived almost one day behind its largest South Pacific neighbors for more than 120 years after American businessmen convinced officials to align its time closer to theirs.
“We will be waking up on Saturday 31st December 2011 and lose one day in our lives, as there will be no Friday 30th December 2011 in the history of Samoa,” said the statement from the Apia-based government.
The new time zone will put Samoa a day ahead of U.S.- controlled American Samoa, a smaller group of islands less than 100 miles (161 kilometers) east, which isn’t changing its time, according to the ministry’s website. Samoa will move west of the dateline, an imaginary north-to-south boundary that passes through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with its American neighbor staying on the east.
New Zealand-controlled Tokelau, a group of three Pacific atolls with about 1,400 residents, is also striking Dec. 30 from its calendar and moving west of the dateline, according to the Tokelau government’s website. Its main state administrative operations are based in Samoa.
Samoa’s government approved the change in May after the time difference caused problems in business deals with Australia and New Zealand, according to the Samoan government’s website. The country effectively had only four working days in which to conduct business with the partners.
The nation’s employers must pay staff as if they worked a normal Friday even though the day won’t actually occur, the website said. Any employer that fails to pay workers is liable to be fined or jailed, according to the statement.
Samoa comprises 2,934 square kilometers (1,133 square miles) of two main islands and seven smaller ones. It was formally known as Western Samoa prior to 1997.