More Maps of Tonga
The first settlers of the islands of Tonga were an Austronesian-speaking people from the Lapita cultural complex sometime between 1500 - 1000 BC.
The first Europeans to discover the archipelago were the Dutch, who arrived on the vessel called Eendracht, and came for a short visit to trade.
More missionaries arrived soon after, which included the Wesleyan Missionary Society in 1882. The people's conversion to Christianity soon sparked a civil war with the non-Christian groups, but it soon ended with the Christian convert ruler named Ha-apai gaining complete control of the islands. He changed his name to George in 1845, united the islands, and became the first king of Tonga, starting the present-day dynasty. He established a constitution and a parliamentary government.
In 1990, Tonga signed a treaty with the United Kingdom for friendship and protection. The UK were then in charge of all of Tonga's foreign affairs and that of military defense. Tonga was never formally colonized but their independence was achieved on June 4, 1970. Their membership in the UN came in 1999.
Tonga is an archipelago located in the South Pacific Ocean. It is found 2/3 of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii, and it's found directly below Western Samoa.
Tonga consists of 170 islands, where only 36 of them are inhabited. The country is divided into 3 main regions, which are the Vava'u, Tongatapu, and the Ha'apai.
There are no land borders but the nearest islands include Fiji, Wallis, and Futuna to the northwest, Samoa to the northeast, Niue to the east, Kermadec to the southwest, and New Caledonia and Vanuatu to the far west.
The islands consist of 2 types of terrain: limestone overlaying a volcanic base, and a limestone base made from coral formations.
Tonga is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy. The King is head of state and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, and he acquires the position through direct inheritance.
The King appoints a Prime Minister and a deputy prime minister for life from the members of the Parliament. Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet of Ministers who are also appointed by the King. Legislative power is exercised by the Parliament, which consists of 9 Nobles, 17 people's representatives, and 2 members from outside the assembly.
Tonga is not a popular travel destination in the Pacific and very few know about the islands. The country has strong religious values and is considered to be very conservative. However, its remote location and very few tourist infrastructure make it the perfect destination for tourists looking for a secluded tropical island getaway. They have several unique laws that a tourist must understand before coming to the islands.
Among the most popular tourist activities in Tonga are sailing, kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, water sports, and fishing.
The main island of Tongatapu is home to more than 2/3 of the country's small population. It is a coral island surrounded by coral reefs, and the capital of Nuku-alofa on the north has a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of sites to visit. Among them are ancient tombs, nice beaches, and nearby smaller islands developed into world-class resorts.
One of the most interesting sites on the island is the Ha'amonga'a Maui - which used to be an entrance to a royal chamber in the 13th century. It is a stone trilithon that's 5 meters high, and is one of the country's most historic structures.
For the best place to dock a yacht on the archipelago, the island group of Vava'u consists of 50 islands located 150 miles from Tongatapu. The harbor across the town of Neiafu welcomes over 500 yachts during the peak season. It is famous for its exceptionally clear waters and it is known for humpback whale sightings during the months of June to November.
Education is free and compulsory in Tonga from ages 6-14. About 98% of all children attend school, and the country's literacy rate is 99%.
There are 20 institutions for higher learning, 95 primary schools, and 22 high schools. 80% of all primary schools and 90% of all high schools are run by missionaries.
Colleges and universities offer degrees in the fields of agriculture, medicine, nursing, and teaching. But most younger people prefer to study overseas, specifically in Australia and New Zealand, where most of them stay to work after graduation.
- The people of Tonga are called Polynesians.
- The country's name is derived from Tonahahabe, which means "the wind that blows from the south east."
- Sundays are considered to be sacred in Tonga, where washing laundry or swimming on a Sunday can place you in jail.
- It is illegal to be shirtless in Tonga, even on the beach. But certain exceptions are made inside private resorts.
Last Updated : January 06, 2015