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The Samoan state has no army and a very small police force, so the role of village politics is very important for the maintenance of order in Samoa. The local government of Samoa is comprised of more than three hundred and sixty villages in eleven administrative districts, five of which are on Upolu Island, the most populated of the nine islands of Samoa. The districts on Upolu include A'ana, Atua, Tuamasaga, Va'a-o-Fonoti, and Aiga-i-le-Tai, the latter of which also covers Manono Island and Apolima Island. The other six districts, on Savali Island, are Fa'asaleleaga, Gaga'emauga, Gaga'ifomauga, Palauli, Staupa'itea, and Vaisigano. The islands of Fanuatapu, Namu'a, Nu'utele, Nu'ulua, and Nu'usafee are uninhabited.

With a population of about thirty-five thousand, Apia is the largest city in Samoa. The second-largest city - Vaitele - has a population of under eight thousand. Other major cities include Faleasiu, Le'auva'a, Vailele, Fale'ula, Siusega, Vaiusu, Malie, Fasito'outa, Lauli'i, and Nofoali'i. All of the larger cities and villages are on Upolu Island, and most of them are near Apia. The other villages on the islands of Samoa have populations of fewer than two thousand. Most of the population of Samoa live in villages near the shore, so there are very few inland villages.

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