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Time travel made real: Samoa to move a day forward

The Pacific island nation will move to the other side of the international date line from December 29.

Samoa's best export is tourism - but in order to boost trade with Australasia, the country will move across the international date line from December 29.
Samoa's best export is tourism - but in order to boost trade with Australasia, the country will move across the international date line from December 29.
Image: ROBERT VOETS/LANDOV

THE PACIFIC ISLAND nation of Samoa has come up with a novel way of trying to boost its economy: it is to skip one day in its calendar, effectively moving a day into the future.

The country’s parliament has decided that from December 29, it will move its clock forward by 24 hours – jumping the country to the western side of the International Date Line.

By doing so, the country will be on the same side as Australia and New Zealand, its main exporting destinations. Currently, the BBC explains, Samoa lie 21 hours behind Sydney – but from December, it will be three hours ahead.

The move will mean that the five-day working week will almost perfectly align with that of its main trading partners. Before now, the staggered calendars meant that the two countries only shared four working days per week.

Prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi explained the move thusly:

While it’s Friday here, it’s Saturday in New Zealand and when we’re at church Sunday, they’re already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane.

The previous arrangement meant that Samoa’s clocks were only four hours behind those of San Francisco, but the geographical placement of Samoa meant that trade with the US is almost totally impractical.

The island’s current position to the east of the line was adopted in 1892 – ironically, to help the country trade with the United States.

The Financial Times mentions that the reform is not the first undertaken by Malielegaoi in a bid to further integrate Samoa with its trading partners: in 2009, he switched the country to driving on the left-hand-side of the roads, as is customary in Australasia and Japan.

The International Date Line is a jagged line drawn between the eastern end of the eastern hemisphere, and the western tip of the western hemisphere.

The time to the west of the line is 23 hours ahead of the time to the right – meaning that a person can fly or sail east across the line and gain a day, or fly westward and travel a day into the future.

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Gavan Reilly

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