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The Kingdom of Tonga (TonganPuleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga, English Kingdom of Tonga) is an island state in the South Pacific that belongs to Polynesia. The archipelago was earlier too Friendship Islands called. The people of Tonga are called Tongans.



The islands of Nuku and Fukave

Tonga consists of 172 named islands in the Pacific with an area of ​​747 km². 36 of them with a total area of ​​649 km² are inhabited.[6] They are east of Fiji, south of Samoa and north of New Zealand.

Due to an initially submarine volcanic eruption, a 177th island came between in late 2014 / early 2015 Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai added, which in mid-January had reached a size of two kilometers long, one kilometer wide and 100 m high.[7]

In a proclamation on August 24, 1887, King George Tupou I determined that Tonga is between 15 ° and 23.5 ° south latitude and 173 ° and 177 ° west longitude (but still west of the date line, which is bulged here to the east).

On June 15, 1972, King Taufaʻahau Tupou IV determined that the Northern and Southern Minerva Reefs (Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga) and all areas within a radius of twelve nautical miles also belong to the territory of Tonga. Both reefs are located at about 23 ° 39 ′ south latitude and 179 ° west longitude southwest of the island of ʻAta in southern Tonga.

Tonga with its many volcanic islands is located in the area of ​​the Pacific Ring of Fire. To the east of Tonga lies the Tonga Trench, up to 10,882 m deep. Here the Pacific plate dips westwards at 15 to 24 cm per year under the Australian plate and forms a subduction zone. The average water depth is therefore only around 500 m, which is why shallow coral islands such as Tongatapu can arise here. The volcanic islands to the west are more mountainous and protrude further out of the sea. The highest point of Tonga is over 1000 m on the small island of Kao. The capital and largest city of the country is Nukuʻalofa.

Natural disasters

On February 13, 2010, Tonga was hit by a 6.3 earthquake. Just two days later, the cyclone "René" hit the island state with wind speeds of up to 228 km / h.

On January 11, 2014, the cyclone "Ian" (level 5) judged as the historically heaviest with wind speeds of up to 200 km / h (gusts of up to 287 km / h)[8][9] severe damage to Tonga. According to the army chief, the Ha'apai archipelago and its main island Lifuka were particularly affected.[10]


There are fruit bats on Tonga. They fly in search of food at dusk, but unlike bats without echolocation. They only eat vegetarian nectar, pollen, fruits and flowers.

Administrative structure

Tonga is at the highest level in five administrative units (Divisions, ngaahi vahe, Singular vahe, or houʻeiki kōvana, Singular 'Eiki kōvana or short kōvana) divided by governors (governor) to get managed.


Informal Tongan Faikava

Tonga has around 104,000 inhabitants (as of 2019)[11]who are 98% Polynesian. The remaining inhabitants are mostly Europeans or Chinese and Indians. A large proportion of Tongan citizens live permanently abroad, especially in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

The average life expectancy is 69.5 years. The child mortality rate is 12.6 (per 1000).

Tonga has one of the highest obesity rates in relation to population in the world.[12] World Health Organization data released in 2014 shows that Tonga ranks 5th in terms of countries ranked by mean body mass index data. It can be assumed that up to 40% of the population suffer from type 2 diabetes.[13] One of the main causes is the increased consumption of imported goods with a high fat and sugar content, such as the cheap belly fat of lambs (Mutton flaps). It is imported from New Zealand and is considered not for sale there.[14][15] Since July 1, 2020, there has been an import ban on mutton flaps from New Zealand on the grounds they played a major role in the rising obesity population.[16][17]

Population development


Source: UN[18]


The Tonga language is one of the Polynesian languages, a branch of the Austronesian languages.


The majority of the Tongans are members of a Christian church or community. Dominant denomination (as of 2011[19]) is the Wesleyan Church of Tonga (35.5%), otherwise among others the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (18%), Roman Catholic Church (15%), the Free Church of Tonga (11.5%) %) and the Church of Tonga (6.7%).


Tonga runs the University of the South Pacific together with eleven other island states.

Tonga has a well-equipped system of upbringing that provides free access to education. Schooling is compulsory for all children up to the age of twelve, the fees for secondary schools are low and there are scholarships for further training abroad. The literacy rate is 98% and university degrees are widespread.


There are archaeological opinions that the first settlers from the Santa Cruz Islands in the course of a 3000 BC. Migration from Southeast Asia via Micronesia to Tonga. In Tonga, the oldest finds of this Lapita culture to date were uncovered in the form of characteristic ceramic objects, dating from 800 to 750 BC. To be dated. The members of this culture lived, sailed, traded, fought and married between the islands that now belong to Samoa, Fiji or Tonga for about a thousand years before further explorers and finally settlers to the Marquesas and Tahiti and then to other islands of the South Pacific. For this reason, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji are considered by anthropologists to be the cradle of Polynesian culture.[20]

In the 12th century, the Tongans and their chief chief, the Tuʻi Tonga, were known throughout the Pacific from Niue to Tikopia. Some historians speak of a Tongan empire, the description as a network of sailors, chiefs and adventurers probably better fits the condition. Tribal feuds broke out again and again in the 15th century and then in the 17th century. It was at this point in time that the first contacts with Europeans were made: in 1616 with the Dutch explorers Willem Schouten and Jakob Le Maire, who shot a Tongan off Niuatoputapu when they first met, in 1643 with Abel Tasman (who did a little trade with the locals), later around 1773 but above all with James Cook, who subsequently visited the islands two more times (1774 and 1777). In 1781 Francisco Maurelle reached Vavaʻu. The first missionaries followed twenty years later, and the Methodist Walter Lawry was to play an important role, but he did not come to Tonga until 1822.[21]

The Tongan tribal feuds on all islands from 1799 to 1852 ended with the unification of Tonga under Siaosi Taufaʻahau Tupou. In 1845 he united all the islands of Tonga to form the oldest Polynesian kingdom. Siaosi Taufaʻahau Tupou's wife came from the royal line of the Tuʻi Kanakopulu. He was later baptized in the name of King George Tupou I in the course of Christianization. In 1875 Tonga became a constitutional monarchy with the help of the missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker. In November 1876, Tonga concluded a peace treaty with the German Empire, which among other things made the ports of the other available to warships from both countries. English policy saw a step in making Tonga a colony.[22]

In the Samoa Treaty of 1899, the German Empire renounced all rights to Tonga and on May 18, 1900, the islands became a British protectorate. It gained independence on June 4, 1970. Tonga is an independent member of the Commonwealth and has also been a member of the United Nations since 1999. To this day it is the only (parliamentary) hereditary monarchy in the entire Polynesian Pacific region.


Tonga is a parliamentary monarchy in which the constitution gives the king greater powers than, for example, the Dutch monarch. The respect for the royal rule still exists largely unchanged as in previous centuries, at that time towards the supreme chief Tuʻi Tonga, who was considered holy. Criticism of the monarchy is rejected as being untongan and simply impolite. King Taufaʻahau Tupou IV., A direct descendant of the first king, lived with his family, some influential nobles and the growing non-noble elite in relative wealth until his death on September 10, 2006. However, the rest of the population is comparatively poor. The effects of this inequality are mitigated by three factors: education, medical care and land ownership.

The state grants free access to medical care. The constitution forbids foreigners to acquire land (although they can lease it). There is a lack of land on the more densely populated main island of Tongatapu, but most of the remaining islands have free arable land. The majority of the population produces food for their own use. About half produce their basic food through agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry. Women and men have equal access to education and medical care, and the employment figures are almost the same. But women are disadvantaged when it comes to land ownership, as only men are legally entitled to it. Only one woman was represented in parliament.

Following the example of his mother, Queen Salote, and the advice of foreign advisors, the government under King Taufaʻahau Tupou IV has monetized the economy, adjusted medical care and the education system to international standards, and gave the population access to material wealth (in the form of housing, Cars and other goods), education and trips abroad. The government supports Olympic and other sporting events and has made soldiers available for UN peacekeeping missions (especially in Bougainville).

Political system

The national parliament (Fale Alea) has 26 MPs, 17 of which are elected by the people and 9 by the nobility (the last election took place in 2017).[23][24] The legislative period lasts three years. Among other things, the Parliament appoints the Prime Minister.

In 1960, still under British administration, active and passive women's suffrage was introduced.[25][26] These rights were confirmed when independence was achieved in 1970.[25]


There is a democratic movement in Tonga that advocates a reform of the existing system, in particular better representation of the common people and greater transparency in the state. An abolition of the monarchy is not one of their goals. The monarchy itself enjoys great popular support, even when reforms are called for. Until recently, the fact that Tonga is not a democracy was ignored by foreign heads of government, but there are signs of a change of course or at least criticism of some government actions, especially on the part of Australia and New Zealand, the largest neighbors and donor countries.

A hard-handed policy overshadows the otherwise positive life's work of Tupou IV and the positive reforms of his popular son Prince ʻUlukalala Lavaka ʻAta, who was Prime Minister from January 3, 2000 to February 11, 2006. Overall, these measures have weakened the community and cohesion, but also increased the pressure on the monarchy to give democratic elements more space.

In 2005, the government spent weeks negotiating with public sector workers on strike before reaching an agreement. The unrest that followed was not confined to Tonga; Protests in front of the King's residence in New Zealand also made headlines. A commission was set up to examine proposals for amendments to the constitution.[27]

Burnt out Chinese restaurant in Nukuʻalofa

On November 16, 2006, riots broke out in the capital, Nuku'alofa, as a result of which six people died and the main shopping street with several government buildings and almost all shops in the city burned down.[28] The cause was the demand of the democracy movement for a more democratic composition of the parliament, which the cabinet largely appointed by the king did not want to implement. The arson attacks primarily targeted Indian and Chinese traders who were accused of corruption. The shops were first looted and then set on fire. The prevailing strong wind quickly got the fire out of control, so that almost the entire city center burned down. The government declared a state of emergency and asked the Australian and New Zealand governments for military intervention. After the situation had calmed down again in early December, the 150 foreign soldiers and police officers left the kingdom again. The state of emergency was extended several times and suspended in February 2011.[29]

At the end of July 2008, King Tupou V announced that he would give up his absolute power and leave day-to-day affairs to parliament and the executive.[30] This was implemented with the elections on November 25, 2010, so that the prime minister and cabinet members are now determined by parliament instead of the king as before.[23]

In the election, the one that emerged from the democracy movement won Democratic Party of Friendship Islands twelve of the 17 parliamentary seats reserved for members of the general people. The remaining nine seats are reserved for nobles.[31]

Change of power

On the night of September 10-11, 2006, King Tupou IV died in Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, where he had been treated for most of the year. He was 88 years old and had been regent for 41 years.[32]

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Tupoutoʻa, who ruled under the name Siaosi (George) Tupou V until his death on March 18, 2012. After his death, his brother ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho followed on March 19, 2012 under the name Tupou VI.[33]

Kings of Tonga

Political indices

Foreign policy

Tonga traditionally maintains close diplomatic relations with New Zealand, as well as with 33 states. The oldest agreement between Tonga and another state is the Franco-Tongan friendship treaty of 1855. Tonga broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1999 and instead established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.

The responsible diplomatic representation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Swiss Confederation is the respective embassy in Wellington (New Zealand), for the Republic of Austria the embassy in Canberra (Australia). The Tongan representation responsible for Germany, Austria and Switzerland is the Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga in London (United Kingdom). There is one everlastingFriendship treaty between Germany and Tonga from 1876, concluded under King George Tupou I, which was renewed in 1977 by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Tonga is not a member of any military alliance, but it works closely with New Zealand on defense issues. Tonga sent a contingent of around 40 soldiers to Iraq in 2004 as part of the coalition forces. The approximately 50 soldiers stationed in Iraq in 2008 were due to leave the country by December 20, 2008. The entire armed forces of the Tonga Defense Services have a strength of around 450 men. They are divided into the Royal Marines, Royal Guards and Maritime Force units, plus two support units. According to estimates from 2006, the expenditures for the military amount to 0.9% of the gross domestic product.[36][37][38][39] Tonga has been part of the international protection force in Afghanistan since October 2010, the current (2012) strength is 55 men.[40]


Economic situation

This article or the following section is not adequately provided with supporting documents (e.g. individual evidence). Information without sufficient evidence could be removed soon. Please help Wikipedia by researching the information and including good evidence.

The economy of Tonga, like other South Pacific countries, is going through a difficult phase. Large farmers from other countries and huge fishing fleets compete with the country in the market. In addition, tourism is poorly developed. Most everyday products have to be imported. The country exports tropical fruits, including vanilla.

The government has made numerous investments, but these are considered questionable economic decisions. Numerous resources have been put into eccentric but dubious projects:

  • The search for oil in areas where, according to geologists, there is no oil.
  • There were considerations to use Tonga as a repository for radioactive waste.
  • The national budget was increased through the sale of Tongan passports. However, these are not recognized internationally.
  • The admission of foreign ships, which were then involved in illegal actions.
  • The rental of "parking positions" for earth satellites in space to other countries.
  • The long-term charter of an unusable, because massively oversized Boeing 757, which in 2004 led to the bankruptcy of the then state-owned airline Royal Tongan Airlines.
  • The construction of an airport hotel with an attached casino together with a criminal wanted by Interpol.
  • Support in the operation of the Top-Level-Domain.to, under which copyrighted material is often offered illegally (see Kino.to).

The king was accused of having a penchant for speculative large-scale projects that promise high profits. The court had already lost millions to Jesse Bogdonoff, a Bank of America financial advisor who was hired in 1999 by King Tupou IV as an "official court jester".[41]

State budget

The state budget in 2017 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 181.2 million, which was offset by income equivalent to US $ 181.2 million.[42] This results in a budget deficit of 0.0% of GDP.
National debt in 2009 was $ 205.6 million, or 78.5% of GDP.[43] China's Import-Export Bank was the creditor for 60 percent (US $ 108 million) of foreign debt in 2012.[44]

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:


Domestic Terminal of Fuaʻamotu Airport
Real Tonga Airlines plane at Ha'apai airport

The island archipelago extends over 800 kilometers, which makes regional flight connections particularly important. The national airline Real Tonga flies to all 6 airports. Of these, only Fuaʻamotu Airport and Vavaʻu Airport are of international importance. Fuaʻamotu Airport has flights to Auckland (New Zealand) and Sydney (Australia). It is located about 10 kilometers from the capital Nukuʻalofa on the island of Tongatapu.

After the bankruptcy of Royal Tongan Air, Tonga also had its own domestic airline, Peau Vavaʻu Air. Until its office was destroyed by a fire in 2006, it regularly flew to all of the country's larger island groups. In 2006 it ceased operations. In April 2008, Chathams Pacific, a newly founded subsidiary of New Zealand's Air Chathams, took over air traffic between the island groups. She used a Douglas DC-3, but ceased operations in March 2013. Since 2009 the Real Tonga established as a national airline, which only started operations in March 2013 and served all of the larger archipelagos.

Ferries run daily from Tongatapu to ʻEua, once a week to Haʻapai and Vavaʻu and once a month to the Niuas.


public holidays

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There are eleven public holidays in Tonga.


There are three weekly newspapers published in Tonga: The Tongan Chronicle (Kolonikali Tonga), Tonga Star as well as the one published in Auckland (New Zealand) The Times of Tonga (Taimi 'o Tonga). The Tongan Chronicle and the Times of Tonga are both bilingual, the Tonga Star however it is only in English. The monthly newspapers also appear Kele'a (critical of the government), Taumuʻa Lelei (published by the Catholic Diocese), Tohi Fanongonongo (published by the Tongan Methodist Church) and ʻOfa ki Tonga (published by the Tokaikolo Fellowship) and the quarterly journals Matangi Tonga and Eva.

The state television broadcaster TV Tonga has been on the air nationwide since July 2000. The private broadcaster Oceania Broadcasting Network (OBN) can also be received nationwide. There are four radio stations Radio Tonga ("The call of the Friendly Islands"), Christian radio, Radio 2000 and, limited to the area of ​​the Vavaʻu archipelago, Radio Nukuʻalofa.

The government has repeated that Tongan Times confiscated when she denounced the king's missteps. The newspaper Kele'aThe mouthpiece of the pro-democracy movement around ʻAkilisi Pohiva and the government's sharpest critic, was not censored, whereas Pohiva himself had to appear repeatedly in court.

In mid-2003 an amendment to the constitution came into force that was supposed to "tongaise" the press, but which in fact restricted it. Traditional Tongan values ​​were used as justification. In order to obtain a press license, it is now necessary, among other things, that at least 80% of the newspaper is owned by a Tongan living in Tonga. Among those magazines that were not licensed were the Tongan Times, the Kele'a and the Matangi Tonga. All of the remaining licensed magazines are now ecclesiastical or royalist.

However, the amendment to the constitution, which had given the government greater opportunities to control the press, has since been repealed by a decision of the highest court.

The Tongan top-level domain became known.to, which is a source of income from domains such as "kino.to", "kinox.to", "jump.to" or "come.to", as they can be used to create catchy domain names in English.


The popular sport in Tonga is rugby union, which is actively practiced by around 20% of the population. The national rugby team regularly qualifies for the four-year World Cup (currently 2019 in Japan) and is ranked 16th in the world rugby rankings (as of September 30, 2019).

However, Tonga has many problems to contend with in sport. Due to the lack of large companies, sponsorship money can hardly be obtained for the sport, which makes professional work impossible, especially in youth work there is a lack of funds. Australia and New Zealand take advantage of this. These two countries lure the best players from Tonga (and the other island states) by means of sports scholarships, give them the respective citizenship, whereby the islands lose their best players.

Tonga has succeeded in building a state-of-the-art rugby arena in recent years, but it is empty most of the time. There are hardly any opponents who agree to undertake the long journey to Tonga. Australia and New Zealand rarely play games against the island states. In order to still be able to play international games, the Pacific Tri-Nations tournament (Pacific Nations Cup since 2006) was founded some time ago. the national teams of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji compete against each other.

There are two recognized rugby competitions in the southern hemisphere - the Super Rugby League (five clubs each from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia) and the Rugby Championship (the national teams of the three countries plus Argentina). Despite repeated requests, Tonga was not accepted in both competitions.

As in other Pacific island states, Tonga plays a traditional indigenous variant of cricket, lanita called.[47]

The royal family caused a sensation with an action in which they cast a luge who was built up for international competitions with foreign help.

In the hope of a generous sponsor, the person Bruno Banani was created. Fuahea Semi was able to achieve some respectable successes, including at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, but also at the Wok World Cup. The action is also the plot in the film Being Bruno Banani.

See also


  • I. C. Campbell: Island Kingdom. Tonga Ancient and Modern. Canterbury University Press, Christchurch 2001.
  • Paul van der Grijp: Identity and Development. Tongan Culture, Agriculture, and the Perenniality of the Gift. (= Negotiating van het Koninklijk Institut voor Tal-Land- en Volkenkunde; 213). KITLV Press, Leiden 2004.

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