Melbourne: Samoa, a tiny nation in the South Pacific and its neighbour Tokelau have already embraced the New Year, a day earlier than the rest of the world, to align closely with their major trading partners in Australasia.

On Thursday, at the stroke of midnight (15:30 IST), Samoa has fast-forwarded to 31 December, missing out 30 December.

Samoa has announced this decision in May in a bid to improve ties with major trade partners Australia and New Zealand.

The change comes 119 years after Samoa moved in the opposite direction. Then, it transferred to the same side of the International Date Line as the United States, in an effort to aid trade.

But New Zealand and Australia have become increasingly valuable trade partners for the country. Till Thursday in doing business with them, Samoans were losing two working days a week.

"While it's Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand, and when we're at church on Sunday, they're already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane," Samoan Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sailele Malielegaoi has previously said.

Samoa is located approximately halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and has a population of 180,000 people. Local time up to now has been 21 hours behind Sydney.
From 31 December it will be three hours ahead.

Tokelau is a tiny New Zealand-administered territory of three islands. It lies to the north of Fiji, approximately half-way between Hawaii and the Australian coast.