Lesson 2: Where We Live

Grades 5–8

words to know

Strand: Map Literacy

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Explain the factors that influence population
       density on American Samoa, including its
       geography and economic activity
  • bullet Research factors that could influence future
       population growth and density on American Samoa
  • bullet Forecast future population growth and population
       distribution on American Samoa

Materials: Where We Live Student Worksheet 2, American Samoa wall map, pen, computer (optional)

Time Required: 45 minutes

    Getting Started

  1. Using the information included on the American Samoa wall map, lead a student discussion on the factors that drive American Samoa’s economic growth. What are the goods and services that drive the economy of American Samoa? How are they related to the geographic location of the island? Why are they important to the future of American Samoa?
  2. Explain that several political decisions may have a future impact on American Samoa’s population and economic activity. Discuss two of these decisions:
    • Congress has passed a series of increases in the minimum wage that affect the main tuna-processing industry in American Samoa.
    • The U.S. government has established a national monument near Rose Island that protects ocean life and places some restrictions on fishing.
  3. Individually or in pairs, have students use the Internet and other resources to research the facts or data of these decisions. They may want to start with the following Web sites: the CIA World Factbook for American Samoa at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/aq.html and the Council on Environmental Quality (Committee on Ocean Policy) at http://ocean.ceq.gov/pacific_assessment/welcome.html. Using these and other sites students may find, ask them to focus their research on the terrain and land use on American Samoa, its history of natural disasters, the median age of its residents, current economic issues such as unemployment and alternative sources of revenue, and the restrictions around establishing the Rose Island monument. Using the information students find, have them forecast how and where American Samoa’s population might shift based on potential changes in economic activity.

Using the Student Worksheets

Based on their research, have students use the map on Where We Live Student Worksheet 2 to mark up their forecast of how the population might change in the future. Have them include the maps in an oral presentation of their forecasts.


Following the presentations, lead a student discussion on the forecasts they’ve heard about the future growth and distribution of American Samoa’s population. Which are most credible? If the forecasts come about, how might they be reflected in 2010 or 2020 American Samoa maps?

Teaching Options

Younger or less skilled students can focus on the facts outlined on the Census at a Glance reference page. Pair students and challenge them to ask and answer questions about the 2010 Census American Samoa based on the printed information and what they’ve learned in class. Have them share their questions and answers. Ask them to share Census at a Glance at home.

Older or more skilled students can build upon the following historical details to write a factual essay about what factors contributed to the shift in population of American Samoa from the first census to now. Explain that the first estimate was made in 1831 with the arrival of European missionaries who recorded a population of 37,000. There are records of nine additional counts and estimates taken between then and 1900, when naval governors, under the direction of the U.S. Naval administration, collected population information until 1912. In 1920, American Samoa was included in the U.S. census for the first time. The 2010 Census American Samoa marks the tenth U.S. decennial census in which American Samoa will participate.

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