OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Tonga
CAPITAL: Nuku'alofa
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 747 Sq Km (288 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 113,800


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Tonga is an archipelago located in the South West Pacific Ocean. The territory comprises 169 islands, of which 39 are inhabited. The archipelago consists of two parallel island chains. The western chain which are of volcanic origin with limestone formations and the eastern chain of uplifted coral formations. Except for creeks on the island of 'Eua and a stream on Niuatoputapu there is no running water on any of the islands. Major Cities (pop. est.); Nuku'alofa 21,000, Mu'a 4,100, Neiafu 4,000 (1986). Land Use; forested 11%, pastures 6%, agricultural-cultivated 67%, other 16% (1993).


CLIMATE: Tonga has a subtropical climate characterized by warm period from December to April and a cool period from May to November, with most rainfall occurring during the warm period. Average annual precipitation is 1,680 mm (66 inches) and the prevailing winds are the SW trade winds. Average temperature ranges in Nuku'alofa are from 18 to 25 degrees Celsius (64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) in July to 23 to 29 degrees Celsius (73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in February.


PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Tongans, who are of pure Polynesian origin with only a trace of Melanesian traits and account for 96% of the population while Europeans and mixed Europeans account for the remainder. Around 68% of the population live on the main island of Tongatapu.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 129 persons per sq km (334 persons per sq ml) (1991). Urban-Rural; 30.7% urban, 69.3% rural (1986). Sex Distribution; 50.3% male, 49.7% female (1986). Life Expectancy at Birth; 61.0 years male, 64.8 years female (1985). Age Breakdown; 41% under 15, 29% 15 to 29, 14% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1986). Birth Rate; 30.7 per 1,000 (1991). Death Rate; 6.4 per 1,000 (1991). Increase Rate; 24.3 per 1,000 (1991). Infant Mortality Rate; 49.0 per 1,000 live births (1988).


RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 61% of the population Protestant while 16% are Roman Catholic.


LANGUAGES: The official languages are English and Tongan. Tongan is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages while English is also widely understood.


EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 0.4%, incomplete primary 37.3%, primary 12.4%, lower secondary 45.6%, upper secondary 0.1%, higher 0.7% (1976). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 46,456 or 92.8% (1976).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1965 Queen Salote Tupou III died and Prince Tungi was crowned King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. In 1970 Tonga gained complete independence from Britain and joined the Commonwealth. Since independence Tonga has worked to modernize and encourage foreign investment. During 1990 revelations of government corruption surfaced with confirmation that the government had been selling passports to wealthy Chinese from Hong Kong and Taiwan since 1986. In 1991 there were demonstrations by protesters calling for the cancellation of 426 passports that had been issued as the government moved to validate the passport sales with legislation. On July 4, 1991 a new terminal at Fua'amotu on Tongatapu was opened. In Aug. 1991 Prince Tu'ipelehake resigned as Prime Minister after 25 years in office and was succeeded by Baron Vaea, the King's cousin. In 1992 the government announced that its first satellite would be launched in 1993 while the private sector unsuccessfully attempted to oppose legislation that imposed a 0.7% currency tax on all foreign exchange transactions. In Feb. 1993 general elections resulted in pro-democracy candidates winning 6 of the 9 directly elected seats with the other seats held by the King, his Cabinet and hereditary nobles. On July 4, 1993 Tonga celebrated the King's 75th birthday and the 25th anniversary of his reign.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the Palanga (P) divided into 100 Seniti.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $150,000,000 (1993). Public Debt; USD $43,700,000 (1993). Imports; TD $91,210,000 (1994). Exports; TD $17,850,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $10,000,000 (1993). Balance of Trade; TD -$72,800,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 32,013 or 33.6% of total population (1990). Unemployed; 4.2% (1990).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Cassava, Citrus Fruits, Coconuts, Fish, Sweet Potatoes, Taro, Vanilla.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Brush and Mat Manufacture, Coconut Processing, Handicrafts.

MAIN EXPORTS: Bananas, Coconut Oil, Copra, Taro, Vanilla, Watermelons.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 433 km (269 mi) (1990). Vehicles; cars 1,433 (1989), trucks and buses 2,784 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 18 (1990), deadweight tonnage 50,052 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km 5,897,000 (3,664,000 passenger-mi) (1990), cargo ton-km 12,000 (8,219 short ton-mi) (1990).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 1 with a circulation of 7,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 52,000 (1994). Television; receivers 2,500 (1994). Telephones; units 5,900 (1993).


MILITARY: 300 (1991) national police-defense force while military expenditure accounts for 4.9% (1989) of the Gross National Product (GNP).


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