Tonga Overview

Tonga Country Profile

Situated east of Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago comprising of 169 islands in a north-south line. The islands are south of Samoa and are about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii. Many of these islands contain active volcanic craters, while others are coral atolls. Tonga’s land area is approximately 748 km2.

Of Tonga’s 112,000 inhabitants, 98% of them are Polynesian by ethnicity with a small mixture of Melanesian. Almost two-thirds of Tonga’s population live on its main island, Tongatapu. Everyday life is heavily influenced by both Polynesian tradition and the Christian faith. Tongan is an Austronesian language which is closely related to Wallisian (Uvean), Niuean and other Polynesian languages such as Hawaiian and Samoan. 

Tonga has never lost indigenous governance, and is the only surviving monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean. They are the only island nation to never have been formally colonized. 

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population living abroad. The monetary sector is dominated by the royal family and nobles. The majority of the population engages in subsistence food production, with approximately half producing almost all of their basic food needs through farming, fishing and animal husbandry. Tonga’s main crops are squash, coconuts, bananas and vanilla beans.