Samoa shares with its Pacific island neighbors a vulnerability to natural and economic shocks, as well as challenges of social transformation. Over the past several decades Samoa has weathered these storms, progressively strengthening essential service delivery while improving the wellbeing of those facing the greatest hardship. At the Millennium, Samoa was poised to move beyond Least Developed Country (LDC) status. The United Nations (UN) recommended that Samoa move to developing country status in 2003, and the island nation was to officially graduate in 2011. However, on 29 September 2009 a tsunami swept over the nation‘s coastal regions, killing 143 people, destroying infrastructure and devastating the nation‘s vital tourism industry. Losses were estimated at US$106 million, equal to 17 per cent of annual gross domestic product (GDP). It was the worst natural disaster to hit Samoa since gaining Independence in 1962.