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Introduction - Tonga:




Tonga - unique among Pacific nations - never completely lost its indigenous governance. The archipelagos of The Friendly Islands were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900; it withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. Tonga remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.

Location - Tonga:


Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

Geographic coordinates

20 00 S, 175 00 W

Map references



total: 748 sq km
land: 718 sq km
water: 30 sq km

Area comparative

four times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


419 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)


most islands have limestone base formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic base

Elevation extremes

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Kao Island 1,033 m

Natural resources

fish, fertile soil

Land use

arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 14.67%
other: 65.33% (2005)

Irrigated land


Natural hazards

cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafoou

Environment current issues

deforestation results as more and more land is being cleared for agriculture and settlement; some damage to coral reefs from starfish and indiscriminate coral and shell collectors; overhunting threatens native sea turtle populations

Environment international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography note

archipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited)

People - Tonga:


116,921 (July 2007 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 34.6% (male 20,624/female 19,779)
15-64 years: 61.2% (male 35,551/female 36,052)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 2,087/female 2,828) (2007 est.)

Median age

total: 21.3 years
male: 20.7 years
female: 21.8 years (2007 est.)

Population growth rate

1.847% (2007 est.)

Birth rate

23.67 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Death rate

5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.043 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.986 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.738 male(s)/female
total population: 0.993 male(s)/female (2007 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.99 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 70.12 years
male: 67.6 years
female: 72.76 years (2007 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.75 children born/woman (2007 est.)

Hiv aids adult prevalence rate


Hiv aids people living with hiv aids


Hiv aids deaths



noun: Tongan(s)
adjective: Tongan

Ethnic groups

Polynesian, Europeans


Christian (Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)


Tongan, English


definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 98.9%
male: 98.8%
female: 99% (1999 est.)

Government - Tonga:

Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga
conventional short form: Tonga
local long form: Puleanga Tonga
local short form: Tonga
former: Friendly Islands

Government type

constitutional monarchy


name: Nukualofa
geographic coordinates: 21 08 S, 175 12 W
time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

3 island groups; Haapai, Tongatapu, Vavau


4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)

National holiday

Emancipation Day, 4 June (1970)


4 November 1875; revised 1 January 1967

Legal system

based on English common law


21 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King George TUPOU V (since 11 September 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Dr. Feleti SEVELE (since 11 February 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Viliami TANGI (since 16 May 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 14 members, 10 appointed by the monarch for life; four appointed from among the elected members of the Legislative Assembly, including two each from the nobles and peoples representatives serving three-year terms
note: there is also a Privy Council that consists of the monarch, the cabinet, and two governors
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the monarch

Legislative branch

unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea (32 seats - 14 reserved for cabinet ministers sitting ex officio, nine for nobles selected by the countrys 33 nobles, and nine elected by popular vote; members serve three-year terms)
elections: last held on 21 March 2005 (next to be held in 2008)
election results: Peoples Representatives: percent of vote - HRDMT 70%, other 30%; seats - HRDMT 7, independents 2

Judicial branch

Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the monarch); Court of Appeal (Chief Justice and high court justices from overseas chosen and approved by Privy Council)

Political parties and leaders

Peoples Democratic Party [Tesina FUKO]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Human Rights and Democracy Movement Tonga or HRDMT [Rev. Simote VEA, chairman]; Public Servants Association [Finau TUTONE]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the us

chief of mission: Ambassador Fekitamoeloa UTOIKAMANU
chancery: 250 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022
telephone: [1] (917) 369-1025
FAX: [1] (917) 369-1024
consulate(s) general: San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the us

the US does not have an embassy in Tonga; the ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga

Flag description

red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner

Economy - Tonga:

Economy overview

Tonga has a small, open, South Pacific island economy. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, coconuts, bananas, and vanilla beans are the main crops, and agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well-developed social services. High unemployment among the young, a continuing upturn in inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government.

Gdp purchasing power parity

$178.5 million (2004 est.)

Gdp official exchange rate

$244 million (2005 est.)

Gdp real growth rate

2.4% (2005 est.)

Gdp per capita ppp

$2,200 (2005 est.)

Gdp composition by sector

agriculture: 23%
industry: 27%
services: 50% (FY03/04 est.)

Labor force

33,910 (2003)

Labor force by occupation

agriculture: 65%
industry and services: 35% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate

13% (FY03/04 est.)

Population below poverty line

24% (FY03/04)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate consumer prices

11.1% (2005 est.)


revenues: $56.97 million
expenditures: $83.88 million; including capital expenditures of $1.9 million (FY04/05)

Agriculture products

squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper; fish


tourism, fishing

Industrial production growth rate

1% (2003 est.)

Electricity production

41 million kWh (2004)

Electricity consumption

38.13 million kWh (2004)

Electricity exports

0 kWh (2004)

Electricity imports

0 kWh (2004)

Oil production

0 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil consumption

900 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil exports

NA bbl/day

Oil imports

NA bbl/day

Oil proved reserves

0 bbl

Natural gas production

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Natural gas consumption

0 cu m (2004 est.)

Current account balance

-$4.321 million (FY04/05)


$34 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports commodities

squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops

Exports partners

US 41.8%, Japan 29.2%, NZ 8.6%, Fiji 4.2% (2006)


$122 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports commodities

foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals

Imports partners

Fiji 30%, NZ 27.5%, US 8.2%, Australia 7.5%, France 5.6%, UK 4.6% (2006)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$40.83 million (yearend, FY04/05)

Debt external

$80.7 million (2004)

Economic aid recipient

$19.3 million (2004)

Currency code

paanga (TOP)

Exchange rates

paanga per US dollar - 2.0277 (2006), 1.96 (2005), 1.9716 (2004), 2.142 (2003), 2.1952 (2002)

Communications - Tonga:

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Telephones main lines in use

13,700 (2005)

Telephones mobile cellular

29,900 (2005)

Telephone system

general assessment: competition between Tonga Telecommunications Corporation (TCC) and Shoreline Communications Tonga (SCT) is accelerating expansion of telecommunications; SCT recently granted authority to develop high-speed digital service for telephone, Internet, and television
domestic: fully automatic switched network
international: country code - 676; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2004)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)

Television broadcast stations

3 (2004)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

18,775 (2006)

Internet users

3,100 (2006)

Transportation - Tonga:


6 (2006)

Airports with paved runways

total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2006)

Airports with unpaved runways

total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2006)


total: 680 km
paved: 184 km
unpaved: 496 km (1999)

Merchant marine

total: 16 ships (1000 GRT or over) 62,185 GRT/72,960 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 10, liquefied gas 1, livestock carrier 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 4 (Australia 1, Norway 1, Switzerland 1, UK 1) (2006)

Ports and terminals


Military - Tonga:

Military branches

Tonga Defense Services: Land Force (Royal Guard), Naval Force (includes Royal Marines, Air Wing) (2006)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age (est.) (2004)

Manpower available for military service

males age 18-49: 25,420
females age 18-49: 24,827 (2005 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 18-49: 19,840
females age 18-49: 21,342 (2005 est.)

Manpower reaching military service age annually

males age 18-49: 1,586
females age 18-49: 1,538 (2005 est.)

Military expenditures percent of gdp

0.9% (2006 est.)

This page was last updated on 16 September, 2007
Source: CIA >>>

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