Image Source: Hannah Johnston / Getty Images via MSNBC.
Last week, Samoa skipped a whole day, December 30, in order to jump across the international date line and move away from the American trading sphere. The Economist reported on the proposal earlier in 2011:
Tuilaepa's proposal went ahead: "When the clock struck midnight Thursday, the country skipped over Friday and moved 24 hours ahead -- straight into Saturday, Dec. 31." The change also applied to the New Zealand-administered islands of Tokelau (population 1,400), pushing both islands west in temporal terms:ECONOMIES can be revived from slump or slumber in a variety of ways. Policymakers are not limited to a forced choice between good old Keynesian stimulus or laissez-faire market mechanisms. A more unorthodox approach has been proposed by the prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who hopes to shift his Pacific island-state westwards in December—to reappear on the other side of the international date line. The better to trade with its neighbours of course. Since the international date line is defined only by the official time kept by the Pacific community, it will in effect shift, zigging and zagging to accommodate Samoa in a new, East-facing orientation.
There is nothing in Samoa's economic performance to suggest that it is falling out of line with the rest of the Pacific region, but its current chronological location is odd. The country is 24 hours ahead of neighbouring Tonga, despite lying almost due north. This means that Tonga is three hours ahead of eastern Australia and one hour ahead of New Zealand—yet Samoa is 21 hours behind Australia and 23 behind New Zealand. These numbers form the economic case behind Mr Tuilaepa's proposal.
Samoans gathered around a main clock tower in the capital of Apia for the historic moment, applauding in celebration as the midnight hour struck to the wail of sirens and burst of fireworks. Drivers circled the clock tower blaring their horns, and prayer services were held across the country. Samoa aimed to align its time zone with key trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region by shifting west of the international date line.