a group of islands of samoa, in the southwest central pacific. Its capital is pago pago. The islands were ruled by native chiefs until about 1869. An object of american interest beginning in 1839, pago pago and trading and extraterritorial rights were granted to the united states in 1878. The united states, germany, and england administered the islands jointly 1889-99, but in 1899 they were granted to the united states by treaty. The department of the interior has administered american samoa since 1951.