Samoa and Kiribati to be first to welcome 2020

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The tropical islands of Samoa and Kiribati will be the first in the world to welcome 2020 as they are located just west of the International Date Line which runs down the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Fireworks to welcome in the new decade will explode over the Samoan capital Apia for locals and tourists who have timed their visit to be ahead of everyone else on the planet to enter the New Year.

In 2011 Samoa took a leap into the future by shifting its time zone west of the International Date Line in a bid to boost tourism, beating New Zealand into the New Year by just one hour.

The island nation’s celebrations are expected to be somewhat muted by the tragic measles outbreak which killed 81 people since October.

A six-week state of emergency was only lifted by the Samoan Ministry of Health on Saturday after successful vaccinations drive reached nearly all the approximately 200,000 people living on the island.

American Samoa, just 220 kilometres to the east of Samoa on the other side of the International Date Line, will be the last to ring in 2020.

American Samoa is 25 hours ahead of Samoa as Samoa puts clocks forward one hour for summer, while American Samoa does not.

Olusola Akintonde