There Will Be No Friday This Week In Samoa

Dec 28, 2011
Originally published on December 28, 2011 2:53 pm

What's happening in Samoa on Friday?

Nothing (sort of).

Officially, the day won't exist.

As Eyder previewed back in May, the tiny island nation in the South Pacific has decided to move from one side of the very near International Dateline to the other.

People in Samoa (population 193,000) want to be closer time-wise to Australia, New Zealand, China and Tonga because they do so much more day-to-day business with those relatively nearby nations than with the rest of the world. And the problem until now, for example, has been that when it's 8 a.m. Monday in Samoa it's 8 a.m. Tuesday in Tonga. Business people in Samoa have kind of been losing a working day when it comes to dealing with their nearest neighbors.

Now the time, literally, has come. When 11:59:59 p.m. strikes Thursday in Samoa, the next tick will take folks there to Saturday.

And no one will be born or die on Dec. 30, 2011, in Samoa. Weird.

Samoa has been on the eastern side of the dateline since 1892, The Australian notes, "following lobbying by merchants who did most of their business with America and Europe. ... The world has changed. Australia and New Zealand provide half the country's imports and buy 85 per cent of Samoa's exports."

Right now, Samoa is five hours behind the U.S. East Coast. Which means, if we have this right, that when it crosses to the other side of the dateline it will be 19 hours ahead.

American Samoa, "100 miles to the east, will not be making the switch," as MSNBC says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.