Coordinates: 20°S 175°W / 20°S 175°W / -20; -175
Kingdom of Tonga
Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo
Coat of arms
Motto: "Ko e ʻOtua mo
Tonga ko hoku tofiʻa"
Tonga are my Inheritance"
Anthem: Ko e fasi ʻo e tuʻi ʻo e ʻOtu Tonga
The Song of the King of the Tongan Islands
and largest city
21°08′S 175°12′W / 21.133°S 175.200°W / -21.133;
Ethnic groups (2016)
1.0% East Asian
Free Wesleyan Church
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga
• Prime Minister
• Assembly Speaker
• from British protection
4 June 1970
748 km2 (289 sq mi) (175th)
• Water (%)
• 2011 census
139/km2 (360.0/sq mi) (76tha)
• Per capita
• Per capita
high · 100th
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
Based on 2005 figures.
Tonga (/ˈtɒŋə/ or /ˈtɒŋɡə/; Tongan: [ˈtoŋa] Puleʻanga
Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian
sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36
are inhabited. The total surface area is about 750 square
kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square
kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. It
has a population of 107,122 people, of whom 70% reside on the main
island of Tongatapu.
Tonga stretches across approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a
north-south line. It is surrounded by
Fiji and Wallis and Futuna
(France) to the northwest,
Samoa to the northeast,
Niue to the east,
Kermadec (part of New Zealand) to the southwest, and New Caledonia
Vanuatu to the farther west.
Tonga became known in the West as the "Friendly Islands" because of
the congenial reception accorded to Captain
James Cook on his first
visit in 1773. He arrived at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the
yearly donation of the
First Fruits to the
Tuʻi Tonga (the islands'
paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities.
According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs wanted to kill
Cook during the gathering but could not agree on a plan.
From 1900 to 1970,
Tonga had British protected state status, with the
United Kingdom looking after its foreign affairs under a Treaty of
Friendship. The country never relinquished its sovereignty to any
foreign power. In 2010,
Tonga took a decisive path towards becoming
a constitutional monarchy rather than a traditional absolute kingdom,
after legislative reforms passed a course for the first partial
3.1 Political culture
3.2 Foreign relations
3.4 Administrative divisions
6.1 Ethnic groups
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
In many Polynesian languages, including Tongan, the word tonga means
"south", as the archipelago is the southernmost group of the islands
of central Polynesia. The word tonga is cognate to
the Hawaiian region of Kona, meaning leeward in the Hawaiian
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Main article: History of Tonga
The arrival of
Abel Tasman in Tongatapu, 1643; drawing by Isaack
Page from the ship's log of
Abel Tasman with the description of t'
Eijlandt Amsterdam, nowadays Tongatapu
An Austronesian-speaking group linked to the archaeological construct
known as the
Lapita cultural complex reached and inhabited Tonga
around 1500–1000 BC. Scholars have much debated the exact
dates of the initial settlement of Tonga, but recently it has been
thought that the first settlers came to the oldest town, Nukuleka,
about 826 BC, ± 8 years. Not much is known before European
contact because of the lack of a writing system, but oral history has
survived and been recorded after the arrival of the Europeans.
By the 12th century,
Tongans and the Tongan paramount chief, the Tuʻi
Tonga, had a reputation across the central Pacific—from Niue, Samoa,
Rotuma, Wallis & Futuna,
New Caledonia to Tikopia—leading some
historians to speak of a
Tuʻi Tonga Empire. In the 15th century and
again in the 17th, civil war erupted.
William Mariner was a teenage English sailor adopted into a royal
Tongan people first encountered Europeans in 1616 when the Dutch
vessel Eendracht, captained by Willem Schouten, made a short visit to
trade. Later came other Dutch explorers, including
Jacob Le Maire
Jacob Le Maire (who
called on the northern island of Niuatoputapu); and in 1643 Abel
Tasman (who visited
Tongatapu and Haʻapai). Later noteworthy European
James Cook (Royal Navy) in 1773, 1774, and 1777;
Alessandro Malaspina (Spanish Navy) in 1793; the first London
missionaries in 1797; and the Wesleyan
Methodist Reverend Walter Lawry
US Exploring Expedition
US Exploring Expedition visited in 1840.
In 1845, the ambitious young warrior, strategist, and orator
Tonga into a kingdom. He held the chiefly title
of Tuʻi Kanokupolu, but had been baptised by
with the name Siaosi ("George") in 1831. In 1875, with the help of
missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker, he declared
Tonga a constitutional
monarchy; formally adopted the western royal style; emancipated the
"serfs"; enshrined a code of law, land tenure, and freedom of the
press; and limited the power of the chiefs.
Tonga became a protected state under a Treaty of Friendship with
Britain on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs
tried to oust the second king. The treaty posted no higher permanent
Tonga than a British Consul (1901–1970). Under the
protection of Britain,
Tonga maintained its sovereignty, and remained
the only Pacific nation to retain its monarchical government (unlike
Tahiti and Hawaiʻi). The Tongan monarchy follows an uninterrupted
succession of hereditary rulers from one family.
The 1918 flu pandemic, brought to
Tonga by a ship from New Zealand,
killed 1,800 Tongans, reflecting a mortality rate of about eight per
The Treaty of Friendship and Tonga's protection status ended in 1970
under arrangements established by Queen
Salote Tupou III
Salote Tupou III prior to her
death in 1965.
Tonga joined the
Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations in 1970
(atypically as a country with its own monarch rather than that of the
United Kingdom, similar to Malaysia, Lesotho, and Swaziland), and
became a member of the
United Nations in September 1999. While exposed
to colonial pressures,
Tonga has always governed itself, which makes
it unique in the Pacific.
As part of cost-cutting measures across the British Foreign Service,
the British Government closed the
British High Commission
British High Commission in
Nukuʻalofa in March 2006, transferring representation of British
interests to the High Commissioner in Fiji. The last resident British
High Commissioner was Paul Nessling.
Main article: Politics of Tonga
King George, of the Friendly Islands (1852)
Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. Reverence for the monarch replaces
that held in earlier centuries for the sacred paramount chief, the
Tuʻi Tonga. Criticism of the monarch is held to be contrary to Tongan
culture and etiquette. King
Tupou VI (a descendant of the first
monarch), his family, powerful nobles and a growing non-royal elite
caste live in much wealth, with the rest of the country living in
relative poverty. The effects of this disparity are mitigated by
education, medicine, and land tenure.
Tonga provides for its citizens a free and mandatory education for
all, secondary education with only nominal fees, and foreign-funded
scholarships for post-secondary education.
Tāufaʻāhau, King of
The pro-democracy movement in
Tonga promotes reforms, including better
representation in the Parliament for the majority commoners, and
better accountability in matters of state. An overthrow of the
monarchy is not part of the movement and the institution of monarchy
continues to hold popular support, even while reforms are advocated.
Until recently, the governance issue was generally ignored by the
leaders of other countries, but major aid donors and neighbours New
Australia are now expressing concerns about some Tongan
Following the precedents of Queen Sālote and the counsel of numerous
international advisors,[who?] the government of
Tonga under King
Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV (reigned 1965–2006) monetised the economy,
internationalised the medical and education system, and enabled access
by commoners to increasing forms of material wealth (houses, cars, and
other commodities), education, and overseas travel.
Tongans have universal access to a national health care system. The
Constitution of Tonga
Constitution of Tonga protects land ownership: land cannot be sold to
foreigners (although it may be leased). While there is a land
shortage on the urbanised main island of
Tongatapu (where 70% of the
population resides), there is farmland available in the outlying
islands. The majority of the population engages in some form of
subsistence production of food, with approximately half producing
almost all of their basic food needs through farming, sea harvesting,
and animal husbandry. Women and men have equal access to education and
health care and are fairly equal in employment, but women are
discriminated against in land holding, electoral politics, and
King George Tupou V
King George Tupou V during his coronation on 2 August 2008
The previous king,
Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, and his government made
some problematic economic decisions and were accused[by whom?] of
wasting millions of dollars on unwise investments. The problems have
mostly been driven by attempts to increase national revenue through a
variety of schemes: considering making
Tonga a nuclear waste disposal
site (an idea floated in the mid 1990s by the current crown
prince); and selling Tongan Protected Persons Passports (which
Tonga to naturalise the purchasers, sparking
ethnicity-based concerns within Tonga).
Schemes also included the registering foreign ships (which proved to
be engaged in illegal activities, including shipments for
al-Qaeda); claiming geo-orbital satellite slots (the revenue from
which seems to belong to the Princess Royal, not the state);
holding a long-term charter on an unusable
Boeing 757 that was
Auckland Airport, leading to the collapse of Royal Tongan
Airlines; and approving a factory for exporting cigarettes to
China (against the advice of Tongan medical officials, and decades of
health promotion messaging).
The king proved vulnerable to speculators with big promises and lost
reportedly US$26 million to Jesse Bogdonoff, a financial adviser
who called himself the king's Court Jester. The police imprisoned
pro-democracy leaders, and the government repeatedly confiscated the
newspaper The Tongan Times (printed in
New Zealand and sold in Tonga)
because the editor had been vocally critical of the king's
mistakes. Notably, the Keleʻa, produced specifically to critique
the government and printed in
Tonga by pro-democracy leader ʻAkilisi
Pōhiva, was not banned during that time. Pōhiva, however, had been
subjected to harassment in the form of barratry (frequent
In mid-2003, the government passed a radical constitutional amendment
to "Tonganize" the press, by licensing and limiting freedom of the
press, so as to protect the image of the monarchy. The amendment was
defended by the government and by royalists on the basis of
traditional cultural values. Licensure criteria include 80% ownership
Tongans living in the country. As of February 2004[update],
those papers denied licenses under the new act included the Taimi ʻo
Tonga (Tongan Times), the Keleʻa, and the Matangi Tonga—while those
permitted licenses were uniformly church-based or pro-government.
The Royal palace of Tonga
The bill was opposed in the form of a several-thousand-strong protest
march in the capital, a call by the Tuʻi Pelehake (a prince, nephew
of the king and elected member of parliament) for
Australia and other
nations to pressure the Tongan government to democratise the electoral
system, and a legal writ calling for a judicial investigation of the
bill. The latter was supported by some 160 signatures, including seven
of the nine elected, "People's Representatives".
The then Crown Prince Tupoutoʻa and Pilolevu, the Princess Royal,
remained generally silent on the issue. In total, the changes
threatened to destabilise the polity, fragment support for the status
quo, and place further pressure on the monarchy.
In 2005, the government spent several weeks negotiating with striking
civil-service workers before reaching a settlement. The civil unrest
that ensued was not limited to Tonga; protests outside the King's New
Zealand residence made headlines.
Prime Minister Prince ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho (Lavaka
Ata ʻUlukālala) (now King Tupou VI) resigned suddenly on 11 February
2006, and also gave up his other cabinet portfolios. The elected
Minister of Labour, Dr Feleti Sevele, replaced him in the interim.
On 5 July 2006, a driver in
Menlo Park, California
Menlo Park, California caused the deaths
of Prince Tuʻipelehake ʻUluvalu, his wife, and their driver.
Tuʻipelehake, 55, was the co-chairman of the constitutional reform
commission, and a nephew of the King.
Riots in Nukuʻalofa, 2006
The public expected some changes when
George Tupou V
George Tupou V succeeded his
father in September 2006. On 16 November 2006, rioting broke out in
the capital city of
Nukuʻalofa when it seemed that the parliament
would adjourn for the year without having made any advances in
increasing democracy in government. Pro-democracy activists burned and
looted shops, offices, and government buildings. As a result, more
than 60% of the downtown area was destroyed, and as many as
6 people died. The disturbances were ended by action from
Tongan Security Forces and troops from New Zealand-led Joint Task
On 29 July 2008, the Palace announced that
King George Tupou V
King George Tupou V would
relinquish much of his power and would surrender his role in
day-to-day governmental affairs to the Prime Minister. The royal
chamberlain said that this was being done to prepare the monarchy for
2010, when most of the first parliament will be elected, and added:
"The Sovereign of the only Polynesian kingdom... is voluntarily
surrendering his powers to meet the democratic aspirations of many of
his people." The previous week, the government said the king had sold
state assets that had contributed to much of the royal family's
On 15 March 2012,
King George Tupou V
King George Tupou V contracted pneumonia and was
brought to Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong. He was later diagnosed
with leukaemia. His health deteriorated significantly shortly
thereafter, and he died at 3:15 pm on 18 March 2012.  He was
succeeded by his brother Tupou VI, who was crowned on 4 July 2015.
Further information: Foreign relations of Tonga
Tonga's foreign policy as of January 2009[update] has been described
Matangi Tonga as "Look East"—specifically, as establishing closer
diplomatic and economic relations with
Asia (which actually lies to
the north-west of the Pacific kingdom).
Tonga retains cordial
relations with the United States. Although it remains on good terms
with the United Kingdom, the two countries do not maintain
particularly close relations, and the
United Kingdom closed its High
Tonga in 2006. Tonga's relations with Oceania's regional
Australia and New Zealand, are good.
Tonga maintains strong regional ties in the Pacific. It is a full
member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Pacific Applied
Geoscience Commission, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the
Pacific Regional Environment Programme
Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the
Tonga Defence Services
The Tongan government supported the American "coalition of the
willing" action in
Iraq and deployed 40+ soldiers (as part of an
American force) in late 2004. The contingent returned home on 17
December 2004. In 2007 a second contingent went to Iraq, and two
more were sent during 2008 as part of continued support for the
coalition. Tongan involvement concluded at the end of 2008 with no
reported loss of life.
In 2010, Brigadier General Tauʻaika ʻUtaʻatu, Commander of the
Tonga Defence Services, signed an agreement in London committing a
minimum of 200 troops to co-operate with Britain's International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The task completed in
April 2014 and the UK presented Operational Service Medals to each of
the soldiers involved during a parade held in Tonga.
Tonga has contributed troops and police to the Bougainville conflict
in Papua-New Guinea and to the Australian-led
RAMSI force in the
Further information: Administrative divisions of Tonga
Tonga is sub-divided into five administrative divisions: ʻEua,
Haʻapai, Niuas, Tongatapu, and Vavaʻu.
Main article: Geography of Tonga
A map of Tonga
Located in Oceania,
Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific
Ocean, directly south of
Samoa and about two-thirds of the way from
Hawaii to New Zealand. Its 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, are
divided into three main groups – Vava'u, Ha'apai, and
and cover an 800-kilometre (500-mile)-long north-south line.
The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of
Nukuʻalofa is located, covers 257 square kilometres
(99 sq mi). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two
types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral
formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.
The climate is tropical with a distinct warm period
(December–April), during which the temperatures rise above
32 °C (89.6 °F), and a cooler period (May–November),
with temperatures rarely rising above 27 °C (80.6 °F). The
temperature increases from 23 to 27 °C (73.4 to 80.6 °F),
and the annual rainfall is from 1,700 to 2,970 millimetres (66.9 to
116.9 inches) as one moves from
Tongatapu in the south to the more
northerly islands closer to the Equator. The average wettest period is
around March with on average 263 mm (10.4 in). The
average daily humidity is 80%. The highest temperature recorded in
Tonga was 35 °C (95 °F) on 11 February 1979 in Vava'u. The
coldest temperature recorded in
Tonga was 8.7 °C (47.7 °F)
on 8 September 1994 in Fua'amotu. Temperatures of 15 °C
(59 °F) or lower are usually measured in the dry season and are
more frequent in southern
Tonga than in the north of the island.
The tropical cyclone season currently runs from 1 November to 30
April, though tropical cyclones can form and affect
Tonga outside of
Climate data for Nukuʻalofa
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average rainfall mm (inches)
Average rainy days
Average relative humidity (%)
In Tonga, dating back to Tongan legend, flying bats are considered
sacred and are the property of the monarchy. Thus they are protected
and can not be harmed or hunted. As a result, flying fox bats have
thrived in many of the islands of Tonga.
A Tongan one-cent (seniti taha) coin
Nuku Island, Vavaʻu
Humpback whales of Tonga
Main article: Economy of Tonga
Tonga's economy is characterised by a large non-monetary sector and a
heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's
population who live abroad (chiefly in Australia,
New Zealand and the
United States). The royal family and the nobles dominate and largely
own the monetary sector of the economy – particularly the
telecommunications and satellite services.
Tonga was named the sixth
most corrupt country in the world by Forbes magazine in 2008.
Tonga was ranked the 165th safest investment destination in the world
in the March 2011
Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very
small scale industries, which contribute only about 3% of GDP.
Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large
extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found
throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first
commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened.
Tonga's development plans emphasise a growing private sector,
upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalising the squash and
vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving
communications and transport. Substantial progress has been made, but
much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector
is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances
Tongans abroad. In recognition of such a crucial contribution the
present government has created a new department within the Prime
Minister's Office with the sole purpose of catering for the needs of
Tongans living abroad. Furthermore, in 2007 the Tongan Parliament
amended citizenship laws to allow
Tongans to hold dual
The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the
government recognises that tourism can play a major role in economic
development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of
revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Vavaʻu, which has a reputation
for its whale watching, game fishing, surfing, beaches and is
increasingly becoming a major player in the South Pacific tourism
Tonga's postage stamps, which feature colourful and often unusual
designs (including heart-shaped and banana-shaped stamps), are popular
with philatelists around the world.
In 2005, the country became eligible to become a member of the World
Trade Organization. After an initial voluntary delay,
Tonga became a
full member of the WTO on 27 July 2007.
Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), incorporated in
1996, endeavours to represent the interests of its members, private
sector businesses, and to promote economic growth in the Kingdom.
Tonga is home to some 106,000 people, but more than double that number
live overseas, mainly in the US,
New Zealand and Australia.
Remittances from the overseas population has been declining since the
onset of the 2008 global economic crisis. The tourism industry is
improving, but remains modest at under 90,000 tourists per year.
In Tonga, agriculture and forestry (together with fisheries) provide
the majority of employment, foreign exchange earnings and
Tongans rely on both plantation and subsistence
agriculture. Plants grown for both market cash crops and home use
include bananas, coconuts, coffee beans, vanilla beans, and root crops
such as cassava, sweet potato and taro. As of 2001[update], two-thirds
of agricultural land was in root crops.
The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated (dried) coconut
was once the only significant industry, and only commercial export,
but deteriorating prices on the world market and lack of replanting
brought this once vibrant industry, as in most island nations of the
South Pacific, to a complete standstill.
Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for
draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their ʻapi ʻuta (a plot
of bushland). More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are
The traditional feudal land ownership system meant that farmers had no
incentive to invest in planting long-term tree crops on land they did
not own, but in the late twentieth century kava and vanilla from
larger plantations became the main agricultural exports, together with
squash. The export of squash to Japan, beginning in 1987, once
brought relief to Tonga's struggling economy, but increasingly local
farmers became wary of the Japanese market due to price fluctuations,
not to mention the huge financial risks involved.
Tonga has begun implementing tailor-made policies to power its remote
islands in a sustainable way without turning to expensive
grid-extensions. A number of islands lack a basic electricity supply,
a supply entirely coming from imported diesel: in 2009, 19% of GDP and
25% of imports consisted of diesel.
In view of the decreasing reliability of fossil-fuel electricity
generation, its increasing costs and negative environmental
side-effects, renewable energy solutions have attracted the
government's attention. Together with IRENA,
Tonga has charted out a
renewable energy based strategy to power the main and outer islands
alike. The strategy focuses on Solar Home Systems that turn individual
households into small power plants. In addition, it calls for the
involvement of local operators, finance institutions and technicians
to provide sustainable business models as well as strategies to ensure
the effective operation, management and maintenance once the systems
With the assistance of IRENA,
Tonga has developed the 2010–2020
Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM), which aims for a 50% reduction of diesel
importation. This will be accomplished through a range of appropriate
renewable technologies, including wind and solar, as well as
Tonga's population (1961–2003) in thousands
Main article: Demographics of Tonga
Over 70% of the 107,122 inhabitants live on its main island,
Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of
Tongans have moved into
the only urban and commercial centre, Nukuʻalofa, where European and
indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and
kinship ties remain influential throughout the country. Despite
Tonga grew in population from about 32,000 in the 1930s to
more than 90,000 by 1976.
According to the government portal, Tongans, Polynesian by ethnicity
with a mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the
inhabitants. 1.5% are mixed
Tongans and the rest are European (the
majority are British), mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. In
2001 there were approximately 3,000 or 4,000 Chinese in Tonga,
comprising 3 or 4% of the total Tongan population. In 2006,
Nukuʻalofa riots mainly targeted Chinese-owned businesses, leading to
the emigration of several hundred Chinese so that only about 300
Tongan language is the official language, along with English.
Tongan, a Polynesian language, is closely related to Wallisian
(Uvean), Niuean, Hawaiian, and Samoan.
The Free Wesleyan Church
Although nominally a secular state, the
Free Wesleyan Church
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga
is the established religion in the state. It is the world's only state
church in the
Methodist tradition of Protestantism, although only
one-third of the island's population adheres to it. In 1928, Queen
Salote Tupou III, who was a member of the church, established the Free
Wesleyan Church as the state religion of Tonga. The chief pastor of
Free Wesleyan Church
Free Wesleyan Church serves as the representative of the people of
Tonga and of the Church at the coronation of a King or Queen of Tonga
where he anoints and crowns the Monarch. In opposition to the
establishment of the
Free Wesleyan Church
Free Wesleyan Church as a state religion, the
Church of Tonga
Church of Tonga separated from the
Free Wesleyan Church
Free Wesleyan Church in 1928.
Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and by
the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment
activities cease on Sunday, from the beginning of the day at midnight,
to the end of the day at midnight. The constitution declares the
Sabbath sacred forever. As of 2006[update], somewhat more than a third
Tongans claimed the
Methodist tradition with Catholic and
Mormon populations equalling another third of the adherents. A
minority of worshippers form the Free
Church of Tonga
Church of Tonga and there is
also the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Tonga. The official figures
from the latest government census as of 2011[update] show that 90% of
the population are affiliated with a Christian church or sect, with
the four major church affiliations in the kingdom as follows:
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (36,592 or 36%)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church/Mormon)
(18,554 or 18%)
Roman Catholics (15,441 or 15%)
Church of Tonga
Church of Tonga (11,863 or 12%)
By some published surveys,
Tonga has one of the highest obesity rates
in the world.
World Health Organisation
World Health Organisation data published in 2014
Tonga stands 4th overall in terms of countries listed
by mean body mass index data. In 2011, 90% of the adult population
were considered overweight using NIH interpretation of body mass index
(BMI) data, with more than 60% of those obese. 70% of Tongan women
aged 15–85 are obese.
Tonga and nearby
Nauru have the world's
highest overweight and obese populations.
Obesity in the Pacific islands is common.
Main article: Education in Tonga
Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in
state schools. Mission schools provide about 8% of the primary and 90%
of the secondary level of education. State schools make up for the
rest. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical
training, a small private university, a woman's business college, and
a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is
Tongans enjoy a relatively high level of education, with a 98.9%
literacy rate, and higher education up to and including medical
and graduate degrees (pursued mostly overseas).
Main article: Culture of Tonga
Humans have lived in
Tonga for nearly 3,000 years, since settlement in
Lapita times. Before the arrival of European explorers in the
late 17th and early 18th centuries,
Tongans had frequent contacts with
their nearest oceanic neighbours,
Fiji and Niue. In the 19th century,
with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture
changed, especially in religion. As of 2013[update], almost
98 percent of residents profess Christianity. The people
discarded some old beliefs and habits and adopted others.
The start of a Tongan tauʻolunga dance
Tongans often have strong ties to overseas lands. Many
Tongans have emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, or the United States
to seek employment and a higher standard of living. The United States
is the preferred destination for Tongan emigrants, and as of 2000
there were 36,840
Tongans living in the US. More than 8,000
Tongans live in Australia. The Tongan diaspora retains close ties
to relatives at home, and a significant portion of
Tonga's income derives from remittances to family
members (often aged) who prefer to remain in Tonga.
Further information: Sport in Tonga
Rugby union is the national sport, and the national team (ʻIkale
Tahi, or Sea Eagles) has performed quite well on the international
Tonga has competed in six Rugby World Cups since 1987. The 2007
and 2011 Rugby World Cups were Tonga's most successful to date, both
winning two out of four matches and in a running chance for the
quarter finals. In the 2007 Rugby World Cup,
Tonga won its first two
matches, against the USA 25–15, and
Samoa 19–15. They came very
close to upsetting the eventual winners of the 2007 tournament, the
South African Springboks, losing 30–25. A loss to England, 36–20
in their last pool game ended their hopes of making the knockout
stages. Nevertheless, by picking up third place in their pool games
behind South Africa and England,
Tonga earned automatic qualification
for the 2011
Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. In Pool A of the 2011
Rugby World Cup,
Tonga beat both
Japan 31-18 and 5th ranked
France 19-14 in the latter pool stages. However, a
previous heavy defeat to the
All Blacks at the tournament's opener
(41–10) and a subsequent tight loss to
Canada (25–20) meant that
Tonga lost out to
France (who also lost to NZ) for the quarter finals
due to 2 bonus points and a points difference of 46.
Tonga's best result before 2007 came in 1995, when they beat Côte
d'Ivoire 29–11, and 1999 when they beat
Italy 28–25 (although with
only 14 men they lost heavily to England, 101–10).
Tonga perform the
Ikale Tahi war dance or Sipi Tau (a form of Kailao) before all their
Tonga used to compete in the
Pacific Tri-Nations against
Samoa and Fiji, which has now been replaced by the IRB Pacific Nations
Cup, which now involves Japan, Canada, and the United States. At club
level, there are the
Datec Cup Provincial Championship and the Pacific
Rugby union is governed by the
Tonga Rugby Football Union,
which was a member of the
Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance and
contributed to the
Pacific Islanders rugby union team, before they
were disbanded in 2009.
Many players of Tongan descent – e.g., Jonah Lomu, Israel Folau,
Viliami "William" ʻOfahengaue, Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Afeaki, Charles
Piutau, Frank Halai, Sekope Kepu, George Smith, Wycliff Palu, Sitaleki
Timani, Salesi Ma'afu, Anthony and Saia Faingaa, Mark Gerrard, Cooper
Vuna, Doug Howlett,
Toutai Kefu and
Tatafu Polota-Nau – have played
for either the
All Blacks or the Wallabies.
British and Irish Lion
British and Irish Lion and
Welsh international player Taulupe "Toby" Faletau is Tongan born and
the son of Tongan international Kuli Faletau. Taulupe's cousins and
England international players Billy and
Mako Vunipola (who is also a
British and Irish Lion), are sons of former
Tonga rugby captain Fe'ao
Vunipola. Rugby is popular among the nation's schools, and students
from schools such as
Tonga College and
Tupou College are regularly
offered scholarships in New Zealand,
Australia and Japan.
Rugby league has gained some success. In the 2008 Rugby League World
Tonga recorded wins against Ireland and Scotland. In the 2017
World Cup, the
Tonga side beat
New Zealand in Hamilton at Waikato
Stadium on 11 November. In doing so,
Tonga became the first national
side in the history of the sport (outside of the big three nations of
New Zealand and England/Great Britain) to beat one of the
big three nations. In addition to the success of the national team,
many players of Tongan descent make it big in the Australian National
Rugby League competition. These include Willie Mason, Manu Vatuvei,
Brent Kite, Willie Tonga, Anthony Tupou, Antonio Kaufusi, Israel
Folau, Taniela Tuiaki, Michael Jennings, Tony Williams, Feleti Mateo,
Fetuli Talanoa, to name a few. Subsequently, some Tongan Rugby league
players have established successful careers in the British Super
League such as Antonio Kaufusi.
Tonga at the Olympics
Aside from rugby,
Tonga has also produced athletes who have competed
at both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Tonga's only Olympic medal
came from the
1996 Summer Olympics
1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where Paea Wolfgramm
won silver in Super heavyweight boxing. One athlete attended the 2018
Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Matangi Tonga – online newspaper
Tonga (Times of Tonga) – controversial newspaper
Keleʻa – newspaper
Talaki – newspaper
Kalonikali – newspaper
Tauʻataina – newspaper
Kakalu – newspaper
Tonga Broadcasting Commission
Tonga Broadcasting Commission (Television Tonga,
Television Tonga 2,
Radio Tonga 1,
Radio Tonga 2 – Kool 90FM, 103FM)
2006 Nuku‘alofa riots
Samoa earthquake and tsunami
Human rights in Tonga
Music of Tonga
Outline of Tonga
Telecommunications in Tonga
Transport in Tonga
Visa policy of Tonga
^ a b c "The World Factbook: Tonga: Geography". Retrieved 9 March
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga
Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga is the officially established church.
See Religion section in this article for more details.
Tonga National Population Census 2011; Preliminary Count. pmo.gov.to
(22 December 2011).
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(custom data acquired via website).
United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 10
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Tonga islands in the south Pacific Ocean: With an original
grammar and vocabulary of their language. Compiled and arranged from
the extensive communications of Mr. William Mariner, several years'
resident in those islands, Volume 2, pp. 64–65. Retrieved 3 November
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^ Nationaal Archief, archiefinventaris 1.11.01.01 inventarisnummer
121, scan 85 hdl:10648/877f659e-35ce-4059-945e-294a4d05d29c
^ Kirch, Patrick Vinton (1997) The
Lapita Peoples, Wiley,
^ New dating pinpoints Tonga's
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^ Stanton, William (1975). The Great
United States Exploring
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^ Kohn, George C. (2008). Encyclopedia of plague and pestilence: from
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^ "The Sun Finally Sets on Our Men in Paradise"; The Daily Telegraph;
article of 21 March 2005; retrieved August 2016.
^ "King George, of the Friendly Islands" (PDF). The Wesleyan Juvenile
Offering: A Miscellany of Missionary Information for Young Persons.
Wesleyan Missionary Society. IX: 1. 1852. Retrieved 24 February
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michaelfield.org (December 1997).
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^ "Tongasat". Mendosa.com. 30 December 1996. Retrieved 27 June
^ iSite Interactive Limited. "No Govt Support Blamed for Airline
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2009. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
^ "Articles:Listing Tonga". Tobacco.org. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
^ Robie, David (November 1996). "The contempt case of the 'Tongan
Three'". Pacific Journalism Review. 3 (2).
^ "Tongan Court Case Over Wrongful Imprisonment Recommences – July
31, 2002". Radio NZ. 31 July 2002. Retrieved 7 September 2016.
^ "Rioting crowd leaves leaves trail of wreckage in Nuku'alofa".
Matangitonga.to. 16 November 2006. Archived from the original on 9
June 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
^ "ADF deployment to Tonga, 2006". 17 January 2012. Retrieved 6
^ "Tonga's king to cede key powers". BBC News. 29 July 2008. Retrieved
31 July 2008.
^ "蘋果日報 – 20120319 –
患血癌染肺炎 搶救數日無效湯加國王 駕崩瑪麗醫院".
Appledaily News HK. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
Tonga crowns King
Tupou VI in lavish public coronation, parties".
^ "Tonga's diplomatic community grows"[permanent dead link], Matangi
Tonga, 12 January 2009.
Iraq Coalition Troops, GlobalSecurity, 18 August 2005
^ "Tongan troops to work with UK and other ISAF forces in
Afghanistan". Ministry of Defence. 22 September 2010. Retrieved 1 June
^ Population Census 2006: Population size, Trend, Distribution and
Tonga Department of Statistics
^ Divisions of Tonga, Statoids.com
^ "Climate Guides – Plan Your Ideal Holiday Trip". Weather2Travel.
Retrieved 17 August 2012.
^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Nukuʻalofa, Tonga".
^ Grant, Gilbert S. (1996). "Kingdom of Tonga: Safe Haven for Flying
Foxes". Bat Conservation International. 14 (2). Retrieved 13 October
^ "About Tonga: Tongan Bats".
Tonga Charter. Retrieved 12 October
^ "In Pictures: The World's Most Corrupt Countries". Forbes Magazine.
25 June 2008. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
Euromoney Country Risk".
Euromoney Country Risk. Euromoney
Institutional Investor PLC. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
^ a b c Ellicott, Karen, ed. (2006). Countries of the world and their
leaders yearbook 2007. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.
p. 1873. ISBN 0-7876-8103-2.
^ Background Note: Tonga, US Department of State, 31 October 2011.
^ Hinz, Earl R. & Howard, Jim (2006). Landfalls of Paradise:
Cruising Guide to the Pacific Islands. University of
p. 157. ISBN 0-8248-3037-7.
^ "Paradise Lost,
Tonga Mired in Poverty". Jakarta Globe. 18 April
2012. Archived from the original on 4 February 2013.
^ a b c Halavatau, S. M. & Halavatau, N. V. (2001), Food Security
Strategies for the Kingdom of
Tonga (PDF), Working Paper number 57,
United Nations Centre for Alleviation of Poverty Through Secondary
Crops' Development in
Asia and the Pacific (CAPSA), archived (PDF)
from the original on 10 September 2015
^ Kunzel, W. (1989), Agroforestry in Tonga: A Traditional Source for
Development of Sustainable Farming Systems, Occasional Paper 12,
Armidale, New South Wales: South Pacific Smallholder Project,
University of New England
^ Rejects from squash production excessed 30%. Halavatau, S. M. &
Hausia, S. F. (2000), Small Farmer Participation in Export Production:
Tonga Case Studies, Apia, Samoa: FAO Regional Workshop on
Small Farmer Participation in Export Production in the Pacific
^ "International Renewable Energy Agency". IRENA. 26 January 2009.
Retrieved 27 June 2010.
Tonga Energy Press Release:
IRENA signing, a milestone for Tonga's
renewable energy plans". Tonga-energy.to. 24 June 2010. Archived from
the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
^ Small, Cathy A. and Dixon, David L. "Tonga: Migration and the
Homeland", Migration Policy Institute.
^ "Editorial: Racist moves will rebound on Tonga",
New Zealand Herald,
23 November 2001
^ "Flight chartered to evacuate Chinese in Tonga", ABC News, 22
^ "China’s World Wide Web: Overseas Chinese in the South Pacific",
Springer.com, January 2016
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BBC News Online. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
^ Sands, Neil (10 April 2011) "Pacific island nations battle obesity
epidemic" Archived 18 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Agence
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you lose weight. Times Online. www.timesonline.co.uk
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22 June 2010.
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Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2615-4.
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2009. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
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original on 6 April 2012.
Ethnography, culture and history
On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation
(2011) by Niko Besnier. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press,
Becoming Tongan: An Ethnography of Childhood by Helen Morton
Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era, 1900–65 by Elizabeth
Tradition Versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji,
Samoa by Stephanie Lawson
Voyages: From Tongan Villages to American Suburbs Cathy A. Small
Friendly Islands: a history of
Tonga (1977). Noel Rutherford.
Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-550519-0
Tonga and the Tongans: heritage and identity (2007) Elizabeth
Wood-Ellem. Alphington, Vic.:
Tonga Research Association,
Early Tonga: as the explorers saw it 1616–1810. (1987). Edwin N
Ferdon. Tucson: University of Arizona Press; ISBN 0-8165-1026-1
The Art of
Tonga (Ko e ngaahi'aati'o Tonga) by Keith St Cartmail.
(1997) Honolulu : University of Hawai`i Press.
Tonga Book by Paul. W. Dale
Tonga by James Siers
Wildlife and environment
Birds of Fiji,
Samoa by Dick Watling
A Guide to the Birds of
Fiji and Western Polynesia: Including American
Samoa, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga,
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna by
Guide to the Birds of the Kingdom of
Tonga by Dick Watling
Lonely Planet Guide:
Samoan Islands and
Tonga by Susannah Farfor and
Moon Travel Guide: Samoa-
Tonga by David Stanley
Martin Daly (2009). Tonga: A New Bibliography. University of Hawaii
Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3196-7.
Brian K. Crawford (2009). Toki: A Historical Novel. Brian K. Crawford.
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