OFFICIAL NAME: Kingdom of Tonga
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Constitutional Monarchy
AREA: 747 Sq Km (288 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 113,800
LOCATION & 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
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
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
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,
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
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).