Tafuna, American Samoa
Tafuna Airport seen from A'oloau
Tafuna, American Samoa is located in American Samoa
Tafuna, American Samoa
Tafuna, American Samoa
Tafuna, American Samoa is located in Pacific Ocean
Tafuna, American Samoa
Tafuna, American Samoa
Coordinates: 14°20′09″S 170°43′12″W / 14.33583°S 170.72000°W / -14.33583; -170.72000
Country United States of America
Territory American Samoa
 • Total2.53 sq mi (6.54 km2)
 • Total7,988[1]
 • Density3,190.5/sq mi (1,231.9/km2)
ZIP code

Tafuna (Samoan: Tāfuna) is a village in Tualauta County, Western District, American Samoa. It is the most populous village in American Samoa,[2] with a population of 7,988 according to the 2020 U.S. Census,[3] and is the center of nightlife on the island.

Tafuna is the principal area for the development of housing and industry in American Samoa. It is one of the few places in American Samoa where the most freehold land is found.[4] Public utilities, the international airport, and light industry are based on the Tafuna Plain.[5] Tafuna's commercial strip is lined with businesses, government offices, recreational facilities, school institutions, service industries, and shops. It encompasses the constituent villages of Petesa, Faga'ima, Kokoland, and Ottoville.[6]


The village of Tafuna compromises the eastern bulk of Tuālāuta County. Its defining geographical feature, the Tafuna Plain, is a Holocene era, 8.9 square miles (23 km2) volcanic plain on Tutuila Island. Besides the plateau at A’oloaufou, the Leone-Tafuna Plain is the only major flat land on Tutuila Island.[7] Late-stage volcanic eruptions formed the large flat plain. Near the Catholic church at Ottoville is an archeological park containing a well-preserved ancient Polynesian mound as well as a rainforest reserve.[8]

Economic activity

A USAF Military Airlift Command C-141 at Pago Pago International Airport on 24 July 1968
Logistics personnel at Tafuna Airport prepare to unload generators.

Tafuna holds a large concentration of businesses on the island. Popular American fast-food franchises such as McDonald's opened in Tafuna in the year 2000.[9] Pizza Hut, KFC, Checkers, and Subway once operated in Tafuna. The American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) is headquartered in Tafuna. Cost U Less, a major warehouse retailer, offers a wide variety of fresh groceries and general merchandise. Island's Choice Dairy Factory, which produces dairy products ranging from ice cream to juices, is headquartered in Ottoville.

Tafuna Industrial Park (TIP), also known as Senator Daniel K. Inouye Industrial Park, is operated through the Department of Commerce and its Tafuna Industrial Park Panel. TIP is located on a 100-acre (40 ha) lot near Tafuna Airport.[10]

International Airport

Tafuna International Airport (Pago Pago Airport) is located in Tafuna.[11] Pago Pago International Airport has the headquarters of Inter Island Airways.[12] The construction of an airport at the Tafuna Plain was one of the major consequences of the military buildup in the early 1940s. Bulldozers were used to scrape away and clear a thick jungle, and explosives were later utilized to blast away obstructions and fill underwater areas. In March 1942, the main runway at Tafuna was constructed. It was 200 feet (61 m) wide and 3,600 feet (1,100 m) long and available to use for the first Marine Air Group's arrival.[13]

The first airplanes of Marine Air Group 13 landed at the nearly finished Tafuna Air Base on April 2, 1942. The area surrounding the airstrip was primitive and difficult, mostly consisting of dense jungle. Four days after the air group's arrival, the first runway at Tafuna was constructed by the Utah Construction Company with assistance from the Marine Corps. The Tafuna Airstrip was 2,500 feet (760 m) long and 250 feet (76 m) wide.[14]: 173–174  On July 18, 1962, the first jet-plane, Pan Am Boeing 707, arrived at Tafuna International Airport, carrying Stewart Udall, the Secretary of the Interior.[14]: 191–192  Tafuna International Airport was once a major stop for many airlines traveling the trans-pacific route until the extension of Faleolo International Airport.

Hospitality Industry & Service Industry

Tradewinds Hotel on Main Ottoville Road in Ottoville has a day spa, resort pool, tour desk, and ATM. It is also the home of Equator Restaurant where shows such as fiafia performances are held Friday nights. The hotel was built in 2003.[15] Other hotels in Tafuna are Maliu Mai Beach Resort and Pago Airport Inn, which is a motel-style inn with a restaurant and swimming pool.[16] The Bowling Sports Club and Flames Night Club are the two main nightclubs on island. They have bars, laser light displays, and a stage for the DJ to play or remix recorded music. Renowned music artists such as Mr. Cowboy and Victor Elisara have performed at the Bowling Sports Club in 2023.


A modern prison was built near the Tafuna Airport for 28 inmates in 1970.[17] In September 2016, a new Tafuna government prison opened. The prison was built for male prisoners at a cost of approximately $4 million.[18]


Year Population[19]
2020 7,988
2010 7,945
2000 8,409
1990 5,174
1980 1,086
1970 278
1960 126
1950 68
1940 68
1930 44
1920 28
1912[20] 25

The population in American Samoa doubled from 1978 to 1997. Most of this population growth took place on the Tafuna Plain and in the Pago Pago area. Nearly all of American Samoa's commercial development lies in the perimeter around Pago Pago and on the Tafuna Plain.[21]

As one of the few places in American Samoa that allow for the private purchase of land, Tafuna has become the largest village in American Samoa and a melting pot of residents with different nationalities.[22] A substantial number of residents who live in Tafuna have immigrated from near and distant villages and districts. As of the 2020 U.S. Census, Tafuna has more housing units than any other village in American Samoa, at 1,914 units.[23]


The Cathedral of the Holy Family (1986) located in the village is the episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Samoa–Pago Pago.[24] The Christian Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) made plans to construct a church center in Tafuna in 1982. Near the vicinity of the church center, Kanana Fou Private School was built in the village in 1979 for the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa. The first phase of the construction of the center, which was named Kanana Fou, was completed by 1984. In 1997 a multimillion-dollar gymnasium and athletic facility was completed. Kanama Fou had now become a large religious center for seminars, conferences, athletic- and youth activities, and many more community uses. Tafuna also became the center of American Samoa's Catholic Church. Construction began on the cathedral, church hall, dormitories, and other support buildings in the 1980s and 1990s. Construction of the new complex, known as Fatu O Aiga, was completed at the cost of $3 million.[14]: 71  The Holy Family Cathedral at Fatuoaiga has a display of wood-carvings by artist Sven Ortquist.[25]: 356 


Tafuna High School is the largest, most urban, and also the most cosmopolitan high school in American Samoa. It opened in 1982 with a total of 100 enrolled students. It is the newest of the five public high schools in American Samoa and had 1,200 enrolled students as of 2018. The high school's football team practices on a rippled grass expanse in the center of the high school campus.[26] The Tafuna Warriors football team experienced a championship streak from 2011 to 2013 in the American Samoa High School Athletics Association (ASHSAA) football.[27] The team also claimed both the 2018 Varsity and Junior Varsity championship titles, with undefeated records in both divisions.[28]

Currently, the only university with a campus in American Samoa, Wayland Baptist University, is located in Tafuna. It offers bachelor degrees in various fields.[29]

Tafuna is home to the most accessible of American Samoa's star mounds, known as Tia Seu Lupe. This can be seen right behind the statue of St. Mary near the large Catholic cathedral. The name literally translates to "earthen mound to catch pigeons."[30] The star mound is almost 10 feet (3.0 m) high and is one of the best-preserved mounds on the island. It is believed to have been used in rituals by tribal chiefs to capture pigeons for an unknown rite. Similar step-stone mounds can be found throughout Polynesia.[31]

The Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, built in 1994, is situated at the Ottoville district on the Tafuna Plain. It contains a picture of the Holy Family on a Samoan beach painted by Duffy Sheridan in 1991. Samoan artist Sven Ortquist did the fourteen deep-relief Stations of the Cross and other woodcarvings and also designed the stained glass windows. Adjacent to the Fatuoaiga Catholic Church Center is a historic park with restored tia seu lupe (a pigeon-catching mound) that resembles the later marae of Eastern Polynesia. The park is located next to the only part of low-land rainforest still found on Tutuila Island.[32][33][34]

Lions Park sits along the Pala Lagoon in Tafuna and is a public park under the jurisdiction of American Samoa Government Parks and Recreation.[35] Recreational use of Pala Lagoon is centered around Lions Park. The park is home to picnic tables, tennis courts, and a children's playground. Canoes, rafts, and kayaks are launched from the park.[36] The Pala Lagoon Swimming Center is a community swimming pool at Lions Park which was built in 2017.[37] Pala Lagoon Swim Center has three swimming pools, water slides, and a splash pad. Next to the swim center is Lion's Park, which consists of tennis courts, a playground, a basketball court, and volleyball nets. There are also several fales with grills and picnic tables.[38]


Notable people


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