Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There Will Be No December 30th in Samoa This Year

The Independent State of Samoa is an island nation about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii.  It is a short distance east of the International Date Line (the imaginary line that separates today from tomorrow).  In 1892 they agreed to be in this time zone so that they could on the same business day as their largest trading partner, the USA.  Before the invention of the telegraph, it wasn't very important to have a standard calendar with consistent time zones because people and data traveled so slowly.

On December 29th of this year, 2011, Samoa will be changing sides of the international date line.  The line will be redrawn so that they will be west of the line.  The change is due to the fact that they now do more business with Australia, China and New Zealand than they with the US.  They prefer to be on the same day as their strongest trading partners.  So after the change, they will be three hours ahead of Australia rather than 21 hours behind. Seems like a logical change from their point of view.  What makes this really interesting is that they will not have a December 30th this year.  At midnight on December 29th, they will be on December 31st.  So if you live on Samoa and your birthday is December 30th ... you are off the hook.

This isn't the first change they have made to realign themselves with Australia.  Back in 2009 they stopped driving on the right side of the road and changed to the left.  That must have a been a blast!   The changes for this were economic as well because it is much cheaper for them to import cars from Australia, with the driving column on the right, than to import from the US.

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