Time Travel in Samoa

 @MarkJohansonIBT
on May 10 2011 11:28 AM

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Have you ever dreamed of having your birthday twice?  Well, that's just what the small Pacific island of Samoa is offering as it steps back in time across the international dateline.

Partitioned by Germany and the United States in the late 19th century, Samoa and American Samoa will soon be a day apart.  Confused?  While Samoa plans to skip west of the north-south line that marks the spot where dates change, the tiny US territory of American Samoa will remain to the east.  This means that in under an hour by air, you can jump back in time.  Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi suggests, You can have two birthdays or two wedding anniversaries on the same date without leaving the Samoan chain.

The move back in time is an attempt to boost the economy by bringing Samoa's work week in line with close trading partners Australia and New Zealand.  However, the switch brings a whole host of new possibilities.  American Samoa is set to become the last place on Earth to see the sun set, while Samoa will be the first place to see it rise.

What is a time zone anyway?  Technically, counting forward from the international meridian in Greenwich, every fifteen degrees of longitude should equate to a change of one hour.  This was the system used by sailors since the 1920s as nautical standard time, though political time zones look much wigglier in practice.

On December 29th, a complete day will be wiped from the Samoan calendar.   As the country races twenty-four hours into the future, they open up a myriad of opportunities for fact-throwing, time-traveling tourists.

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