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Kingdom of Tonga
Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga  (Tongan)
Flag Coat of arms
MottoKo e ʻOtua mo Tonga ko hoku tofiʻa
God and Tonga are my Inheritance
AnthemKo e fasi ʻo e tuʻi ʻo e ʻOtu Tonga
Capital
(and largest city)
Nukuʻalofa
21°08′S 175°12′W / 21.133°S 175.2°W / -21.133; -175.2
Official language(s) Tongan, English
Demonym Tongan
Government Constitutional monarchy
 -  King George Tupou V
 -  Prime Minister Dr. Feleti Sevele
Independence
 -  from British protectorate June 4, 1970 
Area
 -  Total 748 km2 (186th)
289 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 4.0
Population
 -  2009 estimate 104,000[1] (195th)
 -  Density 139/km2 (76th1)
360/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $554 million[2] 
 -  Per capita $5,382[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $258 million[2] 
 -  Per capita $2,510[2] 
HDI (2008) 0.768[3] (medium) (99th)
Currency Paʻanga (TOP)
Time zone (UTC+13)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC+13)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .to
Calling code 676
1 Based on 2005 figures.

Tonga (pronounced [ˈtoŋa]), officially the Kingdom of Tonga (Tongan: Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprises 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited.[4] The Kingdom stretches over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 miles) in a north-south line. The islands that constitute the archipelago lie south of Samoa, about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaiʻi.

Tonga also became known as the Friendly Islands because of the friendly reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga, the islands' paramount chief, and received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, in reality the chiefs had wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but could not agree on a plan.[5]

Apart from being the only sovereign monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, Tonga can also lay claim to being the only island nation in the region to have avoided formal colonisation.[6] Tonga plans to become a fully functioning constitutional monarchy after legislative reform and a more fully representative election take place in 2010.

Contents

Etymology

In many Polynesian languages the word tonga means "south". The name of Tonga derives from the word Tongahahake,[citation needed] which translates to "Southeast", originally meaning "the wind that blows from the Southeast". The proper pronunciation of the name 'Tonga' is /toŋa/,[7] and not /tɒŋɡə/, a pronunciation used for an Indian carriage spelled in the same way and so causing confusion.

History

An Austronesian-speaking group linked to the archeological construct known as the Lapita cultural complex reached and colonised Tonga around 1500–1000 BCE.[8] (Scholars continue to debate the dates of the initial settlement of Tonga.) Reaching the Tongan islands (without modern navigational tools and techniques) was a remarkable feat accomplished by the Lapita peoples. Not much is known about Tonga before European contact because of the lack of a writing system during prehistoric times. But oral history has persisted, and Europeans have recorded it (and given it Eurocentric interpretations). (The Tongan people first encountered Europeans in 1616 when the Dutch vessel Eendracht made a short visit to the islands to trade.)

By the 12th century Tongans, and the Tongan paramount chief, the Tuʻi, had a reputation across the central Pacific, from Niue to Tikopia, leading some historians to speak of a 'Tongan Empire'. In the 15th century and again in the 17th, civil war erupted. Into this situation the first European explorers arrived, beginning in 1616 with the Dutch explorers Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire (who called on the northern island of Niuatoputapu), and in 1643 with Abel Tasman(who visited Tongatapu and Haʻapai). Later noteworthy European visitors included James Cook (British Navy) in 1773, 1774, and 1777, Alessandro Malaspina (Spanish Navy) in 1793, the first London missionaries in 1797, and the Wesleyan Methodist Walter Lawry Buller in 1822.

In 1845 the ambitious young warrior, strategist, and orator Tāufaʻāhau united Tonga into a kingdom. He held the chiefly title of Tuʻi Kanokupolu, but was baptised with the name King George. In 1875, with the help of missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker, he declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy, formally adopted the western royal style, emancipated the "serfs", enshrined a code of law, land tenure, and freedom of the press, and limited the power of the chiefs.

Tonga became a British-protected state under a Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. Within the British Empire, which posted no higher permanent representative on Tonga than a British Consul (1901–1970), Tonga formed part of the British Western Pacific Territories (under a colonial High Commissioner, residing on Fiji) from 1901 until 1952. Although under the protection of Britain, Tonga remained the only Pacific nation never to have given up its monarchical government - as did Tahiti and Hawaiʻi. The Tongan monarchy, unlike that of the UK, follows a straight line of rulers.

The Treaty of Friendship and Tonga's protectorate status ended in 1970 under arrangements established by Queen Salote Tupou III prior to her death in 1965. Tonga joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970 (atypically as an autochthonous monarchy, that is one with its own hereditary monarch rather than Elizabeth II), and the United Nations in September 1999. While exposed to colonial pressures, Tonga has never lost indigenous governance, a fact that makes Tonga unique in the Pacific and gives Tongans much pride, as well as confidence in their monarchical system. As part of cost cutting measures across the British Foreign Service, the British Government closed the British High Commission in Nukuʻalofa in March 2006, transferring representation of British interests in Tonga to the UK High Commissioner in Fiji. The last resident British High Commissioner was Paul Nessling.[9]

Geography

Administratively Tonga sub-divides into five divisions: 'Eua, Ha'apai, Niuas, Tongatapu, and Vava'u.[10][11]

Climate

Tonga has a tropical climate with only two seasons, summer and winter.Most rainfall is around February and April.Cyclone season is between November to March.

Climate data for Nuku'alofa,Tonga
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 90
(32)
90
(32)
88
(31)
86
(30)
86
(30)
82
(28)
82
(28)
82
(28)
82
(28)
84
(29)
86
(30)
88
(31)
90
(32)
Average high °F (°C) 82
(28)
84
(29)
82
(28)
81
(27)
79
(26)
77
(25)
77
(25)
75
(24)
77
(25)
77
(25)
81
(27)
81
(27)
79
(26)
Daily mean °F (°C) 77
(25)
77
(25)
77
(25)
75
(24)
73
(23)
70
(21)
70
(21)
70
(21)
70
(21)
72
(22)
73
(23)
73
(23)
73
(23)
Average low °F (°C) 72
(22)
72
(22)
72
(22)
70
(21)
68
(20)
64
(18)
63
(17)
64
(18)
63
(17)
66
(19)
68
(20)
68
(20)
68
(20)
Record low °F (°C) 61
(16)
63
(17)
59
(15)
59
(15)
55
(13)
52
(11)
50
(10)
52
(11)
52
(11)
54
(12)
55
(13)
61
(16)
50
(10)
Precipitation inches (cm) 5.1
(13)
7.5
(19)
8.3
(21)
4.7
(12)
5.1
(13)
3.9
(10)
3.9
(10)
5.1
(13)
4.3
(11)
3.5
(9)
3.9
(10)
4.7
(12)
63.4
(161)
Source: Weatherbase[12] 2010-03-15

Politics

Tonga operates as a constitutional monarchy. Reverence for the monarch replaces that held in earlier centuries for the sacred paramount chief, the Tuʻi Tonga. Criticism of the monarch is held to be contrary to Tongan culture and etiquette. A direct descendant of the first monarch, King George Tupou V, his family, some powerful nobles, and a growing non-royal elite caste live in much wealth, with the rest of the country living in relative poverty. The effects of this disparity are mitigated by three factors: education, medicine, and land tenure.

Tonga provides for its citizens:

  • free and mandatory education for all
  • secondary education with only nominal fees
  • and foreign-funded scholarships for post-secondary education

Tongans enjoy a relatively high level of education, with a 98% literacy rate, and higher education up to and including medical and graduate degrees (pursued mostly overseas).

Tongans also have universal access to a national health care system. The Tongan constitution protects land ownership: land cannot be sold to foreigners (although it may be leased). While there is a land shortage on the urbanized main island of Tongatapu (where 70% of the population resides), there is farm land available in the outlying islands. The majority of the population engages in some form of subsistence production of food, with approximately half producing almost all of their basic food needs through farming, sea harvesting, and animal husbandry. Women and men have equal access to education and health care, and are fairly equal in employment, but women are discriminated against in land holding, electoral politics, and government ministries. However, in Tongan tradition women enjoy a higher social status than men[citation needed], a cultural trait that is unique among the insular societies of the Pacific.

Prime Minister Feleti Sevele

The pro-democracy movement in Tonga promotes reforms, including better representation in the Parliament for the majority commoners, and better accountability in matters of state. An overthrow of the monarchy itself is not part of the movement and the institution of monarchy continues to hold popular support, even while reforms are advocated. Until recently, the governance issue was generally ignored by the leaders of other countries, but major aid donors and neighbours New Zealand and Australia are now expressing concerns about some Tongan government actions.

Following the precedents of Queen Sālote and the counsel of numerous international advisors, the government of Tonga under King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV (reigned 1965-2006) monetized the economy, internationalized the medical and education system, and enabled access by commoners to increasing forms of material wealth (houses, cars, and other commodities), education, and overseas travel. The government has supported Olympic and other international sports competition, and contributed Peacekeepers to the United Nations (notably to Bougainville and the Solomon Islands). The Tongan government also supported the American "coalition of the willing" action in Iraq, and a small number of Tongan soldiers were deployed, as part of an American force, to Iraq in late 2004. However, the contingent of 40+ troops returned home on 17 December 2004.[13] In 2007, a second contingent was sent to Iraq while two more were sent during 2008 to be part of Tonga's continuous support for the coalition. This Tongan involvement was finally concluded at the end of 2008 with no loss of Tongan life reported.

The previous king, Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV and his government made some problematic economic decisions and are accused of wasting millions of dollars in poor investments.[14] The problems have mostly been driven by attempts to increase national revenue through a variety of schemes, considering making Tonga a nuclear waste disposal site (an idea floated in the mid-90s by the current crown prince);[15] selling Tongan Protected Persons Passports (which eventually forced Tonga to naturalize the purchasers, sparking ethnicity-based concerns within Tonga);[16] registering foreign ships (which proved to be engaged in illegal activities, including shipments for al-Qaeda);[17] claiming geo-orbital satellite slots (the revenue from which seems to belong to the Princess Royal, not the state);[18] holding a long-term charter on an unusable Boeing 757 that was sidelined in Auckland Airport, leading to the collapse of Royal Tongan Airlines;[19] building an airport hotel and potential casino with an Interpol-accused criminal;[citation needed] and approving a factory for exporting cigarettes to China (against the advice of Tongan medical officials, and decades of health promotion messaging).[20] The king has proved vulnerable to speculators with big promises and lost several million (reportedly 26 million USD) to Jesse Bogdonoff, a financial adviser who called himself the king's Court Jester.[14] The police have imprisoned pro-democracy leaders, and the government repeatedly confiscated the newspaper The Tongan Times (which was printed in New Zealand and sold in Tonga) because the editor had been vocally critical of the king's mistakes.[21] Notably, the Keleʻa, produced specifically to critique the government and printed in Tonga by pro-democracy leader ʻAkilisi Pōhiva, was not banned during that time. Pōhiva, however, had been subjected to harassment in the form of frequent lawsuits.[22]

In mid-2003 the government passed a radical constitutional amendment to "Tonganize" the press, by licensing and limiting freedom of the press, so as to protect the image of the monarchy. The amendment was defended by the government and by royalists on the basis of traditional cultural values. Licensure criteria include 80% ownership by Tongans living in the country. As of February 2004, those papers denied licenses under the new act included the Taimi ʻo Tonga (Tongan Times), the Keleʻa and the Matangi Tonga, while those which were permitted licenses were uniformly church-based or pro-government. The bill was opposed in the form of a several-thousand-strong protest march in the capital, a call by the Tuʻi Pelehake (a prince, nephew of the king and elected member of parliament) for Australia and other nations to pressure the Tongan government to democratize the electoral system, and a legal writ calling for a judicial investigation of the bill. The latter was supported by some 160 signatures, including seven of the nine elected "People's Representatives". The strong-arm tactics and gaffes have overshadowed the good that the aged king had done in his lifetime, as well as the many beneficial reforms of his son, ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho (Lavaka Ata ʻUlukālala), who was Prime Minister from January 3, 2000 to February 11, 2006. The former Crown Prince and current monarch, Tupoutoʻa, and Pilolevu, the Princess Royal, remained generally silent on the issue. In total, the changes threatened to destabilize the polity, fragment support for the status quo, and place further pressure on the monarchy.

In 2005 the government spent several weeks negotiating with striking civil-service workers before reaching a settlement. The civil unrest that ensued was not limited to just Tonga; protests outside the king's New Zealand residence made headlines, too. A constitutional commission is currently (2005–06) studying proposals to update the constitution.[23]

Prime Minister Prince ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho (Lavaka Ata ʻUlukālala) resigned suddenly on February 11, 2006, and also gave up his other cabinet portfolios. The elected Minister of Labour, Dr Feleti Sevele, replaced him in the interim.

On July 5, 2006 a driver in Menlo Park, California caused the deaths of Prince Tu'ipelehake ʻUluvalu, his wife, and their driver. Tu'ipelehake, 55, was the co-chairman of the constitutional reform commission, and a nephew of the King.

The Tongan public expected some changes when Siaosi Tupou V (later King George Tupou V) succeeded his father in 2006. On November 16, 2006, rioting broke out in the capital city of Nuku'alofa when it seemed that the parliament would adjourn for the year without having made any advances in increasing democracy in government. Pro-democracy activists burned and looted shops, offices, and government buildings. As a result, more than 60% of the downtown area was destroyed, and as many as 6 people died.[24]

On July 29, 2008 the Palace announced that King George Tupou V would relinquish much of his power and would surrender his role in day-to-day governmental affairs to the Prime Minister. The royal chamberlain said that this was being done to prepare the monarchy for 2010, when most of the first parliament will be elected, and added: "The Sovereign of the only Polynesian kingdom... is voluntarily surrendering his powers to meet the democratic aspirations of many of his people." The previous week, the government said the king had completed the sale of his ownership of state assets which had contributed to much of the royal family's wealth.[25]

Economy

A Tongan one cent (seniti taha) coin

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 that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. The monetary sector of the economy is dominated and largely owned by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of the telecommunications and satellite services. Much of small business, particularly retail establishments on Tongatapu, is now dominated by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-for-passports scheme that ended in 1998.

The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very small scale industries, all of which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened. There are no patent laws in Tonga.[26]

Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Coconuts, vanilla beans, bananas, coffee beans and root crops such as yams, taro and cassava, are the major cash crops. The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated (dried) coconut was once the only significant industry but deteriorating prices on the world market has brought this once vibrant industry, as everywhere throughout the island nations of the south Pacific, to a complete standstill. In addition, the feudal land ownership system meant that farmers had no incentive to invest in planting long-term tree crops on land they did not own. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their 'api 'uta (a plot of bushland). More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining. The export of squash to Japan once brought relief to a struggling economy but recently local farmers are increasingly wary of this market due to price fluctuations, not to mention the huge financial risks involved.

Tonga's development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island's communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. It remains to be said that the most significant contributor to Tonga's economy are remittances from Tongans living abroad. In recognition of such a crucial contribution, the present Tongan government has created a new department within the Prime Minister's Office with the sole purpose of catering for the needs of Tongans living abroad. Furthermore, the Tongan Parliament in 2007 amended citizenship laws to allow Tongans especially those living overseas to hold dual citizenship.

Efforts are being made to discover ways to diversify. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom's land area but are decreasing as land is cleared. Coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of timber.

The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Nukuʻalofa and Vavaʻu.

Vava'u has a reputation for its whale watching, game fishing, surfing, beaches and is increasingly becoming a major player in the South Pacific tourism market.

Tonga's postage stamps, which feature colorful and often unusual designs (including heart-shaped and banana-shaped stamps) are popular with philatelists around the world.[27]

Real estate companies have also just started to spring up in Tonga; as such, they were basically unheard of less than a decade ago. These have provided a way of making income for many Tongans as nearly every male Tongan has plots of land that he has never seen and the leasing of this valuable and attractive land allows the Tongan to live in a comfort not experienced before. There are also many Tongans who work as commission agents and earn a living by finding available land parcels and bringing them to local ex-pats or computer savvy Tongans to list on-line. Some of these so-called real estate companies have done more harm than good and one would be wise to be careful when dealing with them. However for the most part acquiring real estate in Tonga is a simple, straightforward and problem-free process.[citation needed]

In 2005 the country became eligible to become a member of the World Trade Organization, however on July 25, 2006 it was announced that Tonga has deferred its membership of the WTO until July next year according to the Tongan Prime Minister, Dr. Feleti Sevele.

The delay he said did not mean that Tonga was withdrawing its WTO membership application, but to give Tonga more time to improve its tariff system.

The Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI), incorporated in 1996, endeavours to represent the interests of its members, private sector businesses, and to promote economic growth in the Kingdom.

Energy

Tonga is installing tailor-made policies to power its remote islands in a sustainable way – without turning to expensive grid-extensions. A number of islands within the Kingdom of Tonga are lacking basic electricity supply. In view of the decreasing reliability of fossil-fuel electricity generation, its increasing costs and negative environmental side-effects, renewable energy solutions have attracted the government’s attention. Together with IRENA, Tonga has charted out a renewable energy based strategy to power the main and outer islands alike. The strategy focuses on Solar Home Systems that turn individual households into small power plants. In addition, it calls for the involvement of local operators, finance institutions and technicians to provide sustainable business models as well as strategies to ensure the effective operation, management and maintenance once the systems are installed.[28]

Demographics

Demographics of Tonga, data of FAO, year 2005; number of inhabitants in thousands

Over 70% of the 101,991 inhabitants of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial centre, Nukuʻalofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever. A clear majority of Tongans are Methodists[29] [see figures below] with a significant Catholic minority and a good number who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). The official figures from the latest government census of 2006 (cf. www.pmo.gov.to/tongastats) show that the four major church affiliations in the kingdom stood as follows:

  • Free Wesleyans (38,052 or 37%)
  • Mormons (17,109 or 17%)
  • Catholics (15,992 or 16%)
  • Free Church of Tonga (11,599 or 11%)

Using their own church statistics, Mormons claim 48 percent of the population to claim Tonga as the most Mormon nation in the world.[30]

Tongans, Polynesian by ethnicity with a very small mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European (the majority are British), mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There were approximately 3,000 or 4,000 Chinese in Tonga in 2001, thus comprising 3 or 4% of the total Tongan population.[31] In 2006, Nukuʻalofa riots mainly targeted Chinese-owned businesses, leading to the emigration of several hundred Chinese.[32]

Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 8% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level of education. State schools make up for the rest. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a woman's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.

The Tongan language is the official language of the islands, along with English. Tongan is a Polynesian language which is closely related to Wallisian (Uvean), Niuean, Hawaiian, and Samoan.

70% of Tongan women aged 15–85 are obese. Tonga and nearby Nauru have the world’s highest overweight and obese populations.[33]

Culture and diaspora

Tonga has been inhabited for perhaps 3,000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. The culture of its inhabitants has surely changed greatly over this long time period. Before the arrival of European explorers in the late 1600s and early 1700s, the Tongans were in frequent contact with their nearest Oceanic neighbor, Fiji & Niue. In the 1800s, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed dramatically. Some old beliefs and habits were thrown away, and others adopted. Some accommodations made in the 1800s and early 1900s are now being challenged by changing Western civilization.

The start of a Tongan ula dance.

Contemporary Tongans often have strong ties to overseas lands. Many Tongans have emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, and the United States to seek employment and a higher standard of living. U.S. cities with significant Tongan American populations include Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Anchorage, Alaska; Inland Empire, California; San Mateo, California; East Palo Alto, California; San Bruno, California; Oakland, California; Inglewood, California; Los Angeles, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Honolulu, Hawaii; Reno, Nevada, and Euless, Texas (in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex). Large Tongan communities can also be found in Tutuila, American Samoa, Auckland, New Zealand, and in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. This Tongan diaspora is still closely tied to relatives at home, and a significant portion of Tonga's income derives from remittances to family members (often aged) who prefer to remain in Tonga.

Sport

Rugby union is the national sport in Tonga, and the national team ('Ikale Tahi or Sea Eagles) has performed quite well on the international stage. Although in recent years the national team has not performed as well as neighboring Samoa and Fiji, Tonga has competed in five Rugby World Cups, the first being in 1987. The 2007 Rugby World Cup was its most successful to date, with Tonga winning both of its first two matches, against the USA 25–15 and Samoa 19–15; and came very close to upsetting the eventual winners of the 2007 tournament, the South African Springboks, losing 30–25 in the end. They then lost to England 36–20 in their last pool game to end their hopes of making the knockout stages but were by no means disgraced. In fact, by picking up third place in their pool games behind South Africa and England, Tonga has since been rewarded with automatic qualification for the 2011 Rugby World Cup to be held in New Zealand.

Tonga's best result prior to 2007 came in 1995 when they won one game beating Ivory Coast 29–11, and 1999 when they won one game beating Italy 28–25 (although with only 14 men they lost heavily to England, 10–101). Tonga performs the "Sipi Tau" (war dance) before its matches. Tonga used to compete in the Pacific Tri-Nations against Samoa and Fiji which has now been replaced by the IRB Pacific 6 Nations involving as well Japan, the second string All Blacks (Junior All Blacks) and Wallabies (Australia A) although from 2008 the Junior All Blacks would be replaced by the Maori All Blacks. At club level, there are the Datec Cup Provincial Championship and the Pacific Rugby Cup. Rugby union is governed by the Tonga Rugby Football Union, which is also a member of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance. Tonga contributes to the Pacific Islanders rugby union team. Jonah Lomu, Viliami (William) 'Ofahengaue and George Smith, Wycliff Palu, Tatafu Polota-Nau are all of Tongan descent. Rugby is popular in the nation's schools and students from schools such as Tonga College, Tupou College are regularly offered scholarships from New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

Rugby league has also gained some success in Tonga. In the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Tonga recorded wins against Ireland and Scotland. In addition to the success of the national team, many players of Tongan descent make it big in the Australian National Rugby League competition. These include Willie Mason, Brent Kite, Willie Tonga, Anthony Tupou, Antonio Kaufusi, Israel Folau, Taniela Tuiaki, Michael Jennings, Feleti Mateo, Fetuli Talanoa, to name but a few. Subsequently, some Tongan Rugby League players have established successful careers in the British Super League.

Tongan Boxer Paea Wolfgram won the silver medal in the Super Heavyweight division (>91 kg) at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Thus far, he remains the only athlete to have won an Olympic medal from the island nations of the South Pacific outside Australia and New Zealand. Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku (a.k.a. Duke Kahanamoku), a native Hawaiian, had also won an Olympic medal while representing the United States.

Tongan women are known for being skillful jugglers.[34]

A number of US citizens of Tongan descent have made successful careers in American football. Euless' Trinity High School, the Texas state champion football team in 2007 and #1 ranked team nationally in 2008, has several Tongan players. Haloti Ngata is a professional football player in the NFL. Ngata is a defensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. Vai Sikahema, a native of Tonga, is a former NFL running back/kick returner, who now is a sportscaster in Philadelphia.[35] Ma'ake Kemoeatu, also born in Tonga, plays as a defensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers. His brother Chris Kemoeatu plays as an offensive guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Media

Regional distribution

  • Taimi o Tonga — Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, United States of America

Domestic distribution

  • Kele'a — Newspaper
  • Talaki — Newspaper
  • Kalonikali — Newspaper
  • Tau'ataina — Newspaper

See also

References

  1. ^ Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division (2009) (.PDF). World Population Prospects, Table A.1. 2008 revision. United Nations. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/wpp2008/wpp2008_text_tables.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Tonga". International Monetary Fund. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2009/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?sy=2006&ey=2009&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&c=866&s=NGDPD%2CNGDPDPC%2CPPPGDP%2CPPPPC%2CLP&grp=0&a=&pr.x=64&pr.y=5. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  3. ^ Human Development Report 2009. The United Nations. Retrieved 15 October 2009
  4. ^ "Pacific Islands Report #32261"PDF (33.8 KB), World Bank
  5. ^ Had they known of British colonisation they might have killed him anyway, as eventually happened in Hawaiʻi.Mr Korovulavula - Occasion of the Inaugural Flight Fiji/Tonga/Fiji Reception by Airlines Tonga, accessed April 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Country Profile: Tonga. BBC News.
  7. ^ C.M. Churchward, Tongan grammar. ISBN 0-908717-05-9
  8. ^ Kirch 1997 The Lapita Peoples
  9. ^ The sun finally sets on our men in paradise, published on The Daily Telegraph, March 21, 2005.
  10. ^ Population Census 2006: Population size, Trend, Distribution and Structure, Tonga Department of Statistics
  11. ^ Divisions of Tonga, Statoids.com
  12. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Nuku'alofa,Tonga". http://www.weatherbase.com/weather/weatherall.php3?s=22819&refer=&units=metric. 
  13. ^ Iraq Coalition Troops, published on GlobalSecurity, August 18, 2005
  14. ^ a b http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/09/10/tonga.king.ap/index.html
  15. ^ December 1997
  16. ^ Tonga : In Depth : History | Frommers.com
  17. ^ The ships that died of shame - smh.com.au
  18. ^ Tongasat
  19. ^ Islands Business - No Govt Support Blamed for Airline Collapse
  20. ^ Articles:Listing Tonga
  21. ^ Pacific Journalism Review 1996 Tongan
  22. ^ Tongan Court Case Over Wrongful Imprisonment Recommences - July 31, 2002
  23. ^ No resolution in sight in Tonga, published on TVNZ, August 30, 2005
  24. ^ Riots
  25. ^ "Tonga's king to cede key powers". BBC News. July 29, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7530209.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-31. 
  26. ^ Gazetteer - Patents at www.billanderson.com.au
  27. ^ Earl R. Hinz & Jim Howard (2006). Landfalls of Paradise: Cruising Guide to the Pacific Islands. University of Hawaii Press. p. 157. ISBN 0824830377. http://books.google.com/books?id=CjIg5FgUUW8C&pg=PA157&dq=tonga+postage+stamps&lr=&ei=gI_bSfPyFoy0yQSepenzCQ#PPA157,M1. 
  28. ^ http://www.irena.org
  29. ^ (cf. Ernst, Manfred/ Winds of Change. Suva: PCC, 1994, p. 146)
  30. ^ Wakeley, Alan B. "LDS Newsroom" LDS Church Statistical Information: Tonga, May 25, 2008 [1]
  31. ^ "Editorial: Racist moves will rebound on Tonga", New Zealand Herald, November 23, 2001
  32. ^ "Flight chartered to evacuate Chinese in Tonga", ABC News, November 22, 2006
  33. ^ Welcome to the town that will make you lose weight - Times Online at www.timesonline.co.uk
  34. ^ The Juggling Girls of Tonga, Steve Cohen at www.juggling.org
  35. ^ [2]

Further reading

  • Ancient Tonga and the Lost City of Mu'a: Including Samoa, Fiji and Raratonga by David Hatcher Childress
  • The Art of Tonga by Keith St. Cartmail
  • Becoming Tongan: An Ethnography of Childhood by Helen Morton
  • Birds of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa by Dick Watling
  • A Guide to the Birds of Fiji and Western Polynesia: Including American Samoa, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna by Dick Watling
  • Guide to the Birds of the Kingdom of Tonga by Dick Watling
  • Lonely Planet Guide: Samoan Islands and Tonga by Susannah Farfor and Paul Smitz
  • Moon Travel Guide: Samoa-Tonga by David Stanley
  • Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era, 1900-65 by Elizabeth Wood-Ellem
  • Toki by Brian K. Crawford
  • Tonga by James Siers
  • The Tonga Book by Paul. W. Dale
  • Tonga: A New Bibliography by Martin Daly
  • Tradition Versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga and Western Samoa by Stephanie Lawson
  • Voyages: From Tongan Villages to American Suburbs Cathy A. Small

External links

Government
General information
News media (online only)


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Tonga, the "Friendly Islands", is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. The country is divided into four island groups, or regions. The Tonga Visitors Bureau has a very informative web site at [1].

  • Tongatapu -- home of the capital, Nuku'alofa. A short flight or boat trip to the east southeast is the unspoilt island of 'Eua.[2]
  • Ha'apai -- the least populated group
  • Vava'u -- a popular yachting destination
  • The Niuas are remote islands to the north of Tonga. Niuafo’ou, Niuatoputapu, and Tafahi are collectively known as the “Niuas”.
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:tn-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital Nuku'alofa
Government Hereditary constitutional monarchy
Currency pa'anga (TOP)
Area 748 km2
Population 106,137 (July 2002 est.)
Language Tongan, English
Religion Christian (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints claims 52,000 adherents; Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)
Electricity 230V/50Hz (Australian plug)
Calling Code +676
Internet TLD .to
Time Zone UTC +13

Understand

There were pro-democracy riots in Nuku'alofa in November 2006 which left 8 people dead and large portions of the town centre flattened (by fire). Tonga is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world and is based upon an essentially feudal system where the king disburses land and positions without recourse to any elected body. Although Tongan royalty is largely loved and revered by Tongans, younger people have an appetite for stronger accountability and a more modern constitution. It is an economy with none of the corporate chain stores and with local small businesses providing all necessary goods and services. Tourists were not a target during the riots and you will find Tonga a friendly and appealing place to visit although don't expect the same level of infrastructure as in more developed countries. Rebuilding after the riots in Nuku'alofa has been more or less completed and there are abundant tourism facilities.

History

The archipelago of "The Friendly Islands" was united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. It became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900. Tonga acquired its independence in 1970 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is one of the few indigenous monarchies in the Pacific.

Typical roadside store on Tongatapu
Typical roadside store on Tongatapu

By plane

Fua'amotu Airport (TBU) is on Tongatapu around half an hour from Nuku'alofa.

  • Air New Zealand flies from Auckland five times weekly, and from Samoa and Los Angeles once a week.
  • Pacific Blue flies from Sydney and Auckland twice a week.
  • You can also arrive from Fiji (Nadi and Suva) on Air Pacific, with connections from the USA, Hong Kong, Australia and Samoa.

A crowd of local taxi drivers meets each incoming flight at the airport and they usually charge 25-30 Pa'anga for a lift into Nuku'alofa. The Teta Tours mini-bus also meets flights and will deliver you to your hotel or guest house for 10 Pa'anga.

.
Spectacular blow holes on the south coast of Tongatapu
Spectacular blow holes on the south coast of Tongatapu

By private boat

Lots of people arrive by private yacht since Tonga, particularly Vava'u, is a common stop on the around-the-world circuit

Get around

To get between island groups, you basically have to fly (or sail). Chathams Pacific Airline operates between the major islands, with flights from Tongatapu to 'Eua, Ha'apai, and Vava'u and from Vava'u to Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu. The flight from Tongatapu to 'Eua is, at eight minutes, said to be the world's shortest scheduled flight.[3]

Motorbikes, scooters and cycles can be rented on Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai. On Tongatapu you can hire a car. There are also taxis. To get around the main island, Tongatapu, Teta Tours and Toni's guest house offer day tours of all the main tourist sights. The speed limit is usually 40kph and this is stuck to by the local drivers. You're meant to also buy a local Tongan driving licence on top of your existing licence before you drive (25 Pa'anga). The roads are good in and around Nuku'alofa but deteriorate the further from the town and the further south you travel.Most cars in Tonga are in a terrible state, maintained on a budget and held together by a combination of 'Western Union' stickers and prayer. The low speed limit helps to keep accidents down. There are buses to various points on Tongatapu from Nuku'alofa although there are no timetables.

Ha'amonga 'a Maui trilithon
Ha'amonga 'a Maui trilithon

Talk

Tongan is the most widely spoken language in Tonga. English is also widely understood because many of the high schools teach exclusively in English. Many Tongans when asked a question they are unsure of or don`t understand will reply with a "Yes". In this case, ask a follow up question and if the reply is still "Yes", ask someone else.

  • Tongatapu. Tongatapu is Tonga's largest island with over two-thirds of the country's small population. It is a coral island surrounded by coral reefs. The capital, Nuku'alofa, on the north coast, has a relaxed air, despite the troubles of a few years ago. There are some interesting places to visit, such as ancient tombs and coastal blowholes, and some nice beaches with good snorkelling. Tongatapu also provides a good opportunity to view a unique culture. There are several small islands to the north of Tongatapu that have been developed into resorts. Nuku'alofa has good quality accommodation as well as guest houses within range of the backpacker.
  • 'Eua. 'Eua Island is located only 17.5km east southeast from Tongatapu. It is the highest island in Tonga and is not related geologically to the other islands, being much older. It has beaches on the western side but dramatic cliffs on the east coast, with Tonga’s largest tropical rain forest, which is a great place to go trekking. There are a few small guest houses.
  • Vava'u. Vava’u is a group of more than 50 islands, about 150 miles north of Tongatapu. They are either raised coral limestone or coral atolls. The beautiful harbour opposite the main town of Neiafu is a common destination for yachties sailing the South Pacific, attracting about 500 yachts every season. The waters of the islands are known for their clarity. The area attracts many humpback whales between June and November and there are organised tours to see them. Other things to do include diving, renting a yacht, kayaking; game fishing and kite surfing. There are some good walks on the main island. There are many places to stay both in the capital Neiafu and on the outlying islands.
Niuafo'ou Island from space
Niuafo'ou Island from space
  • Ha'apai. Ha'apai is a group of about 60 islands, south of the Vava'u group and north of Tongatapu. Only 20 islands are constantly inhabited. This is where the Mutiny on the Bounty occurred in 1789. The total population is approximately 5,500. There are plenty of sandy beaches plus good diving and snorkelling and the opportunity to see some whales. Ha'apai offers the whole range of accommodation, from budget to upmarket resort.
  • The Niuas. The Niuas are reachable by weekly flights from Vava’u. Niuatoputapu is 240km north of Vava’u and has a population of around 1400. It has beautiful white beaches, particularly on the north-west side of the island. Niuafo’ou is the northernmost island of Tonga. It is known as Tin Can island from the fact that in earlier times mail was delivered and picked up by strong swimmers who would retrieve packages sealed up in a biscuit tin and thrown overboard from passing ships. Niuafo’ou is the tip of an underwater volcano. The last eruption was in 1946, after which the whole island was evacuated for ten years. Accommodation on both islands is limited.

Do

Apart from a few historical sites on Tongatapu most things to do in Tonga reflect its island nature. Diving, snorkelling, fishing, boat trips, kayaking and kite surfing are all possible. There are some lovely beaches if you just want to laze around. Tonga has some good restaurants and this is the place to come if you like lobster.

Take time to learn a little about Tonga's fairly feudal culture and its many traditions. Go to church. Even if you are not religious the singing can be very moving. Watch tapa cloth being made from mulberry bark and try a drink of kava, the traditional drink, which is a mild narcotic.

Buy

The national currency is the Pa'anga, or Tongan dollar. Denominations are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 seniti coins and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Pa'anga banknotes. Although Tonga is a developing country, prices for many things are comparable to or slightly greater than New Zealand or Australia. Most of what you eat, apart from fish, lobsters, roots and tubers, fruits and vegetables will have been imported. A good meal out will cost 30-50 Pa'anga, a beer in a restaurant or bar costs about 5-6 Pa'anga, hiring a car is about 50-60 Pa'anga a day and cigarettes are 7-8 Pa'anga for a pack of 25.

Tongan tapa
Tongan tapa
  • Tapa. Tapa cloth is made from the bulk of the paper mulberry tree. Although tapa is found throughout Polynesia, Tonga is the only country where it is still a part of daily life. The bark is stripped from the tree trunk and the outer bark is then scraped off from the inner bark and discarded. The inner bark is first dried in the sun before being soaked. It is then beaten into strips of 25cm using wooden mallets. The continuous beats of the tapa mallet is still a common sound in Tongan villages. The narrow strips are then beaten together into a wider sheet and decorated.

Eat

Tongan feasts are a must-do. Tour companies and hotels organize feasts, together with traditional dancing, on several nights of the week on Tongatapu and in Vava'u.

Drink

Tonga is lively well into the evening, generally becoming suddenly very quiet at around 11PM. Expect to see people walking around until late. Beer and liquor are available from many outlets, including Fijian, Australian and New Zealand imports to complement the local brews. If you are keen to check out native drink, try Kava (something like liquid novacaine) at least once.

The local beer is called Ikale and is sold in 330 ml bottles in most restaurants and bars (4.50-5 Pa'anga). Or you can buy the same bottles from one of the many 'Chinese' roadside shops or a supermarket for 2 Pa'anga or less. Imported beers are mainly from Australia although there are also some from Europe. Most are sold in 330 ml cans or bottles.

Sleep

There is a wide range of accommodation in Tonga, ranging from luxurious to budget. Most have relatively few rooms, though. The Tonga Visitors Bureau [4] has a full listing. See detailed listings on the pages for Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai.

Work

If you don't work you don't eat. Tongans don't want to hear that its hard on the coral beaches lined with palm trees and emerald lagoons. There are many opportunities for skilled trades from the streets to the shops, in the schools to the churches and yes from the markets to the office. This is a hot spot for skilled navigators spanning throughout 169 villages and 150 islands. Some major exports include Vanilla, handcrafts and specialty pumpkins grown for export to Japan. Other agriculture sectors include root crops like taro, tapioca, sweet potatoes, yams, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, watermelons and even peanuts.

Stay safe

One thing to remember when going for a swim is that there are many sharp corals near the beach, especially near Tongatapu and PangaiMotu. It is a good idea to wear a cheap pair of sandals while in the water. There are jelly fish and they do sting! They are also hard to see. It is a good idea to have a bottle of vinegar handy in your bag to help treat any stings.

Stay healthy

There is no malaria in Tonga.

Exercise the usual caution when snorkelling as the coral can be dangerous.

Respect

For maximum respect, keep your knees covered (both men and women). Men, keep your shirt on everywhere except at the beach. Topless men off cruise liners have been arrested and held until after the ship has left! This is a very conservative Christian country. Keep in mind that Sunday is strongly revered, the vast majority of the population will attend religious services, very few shops will be open and there is very little to do. Hotels will be open, as will some restaurant and beach resorts, although mainly to serve expats and tourists. Small shops, including, in Nuku'alofa, a popular bakery, may open later on Sunday afternoon.

TV stations close or play Christian shows on Sundays. Radio stations will also play religious on Sundays. To compensate, the cinema in Nuku'alofa usually has a screening just after midnight on Monday morning.

Tonga features many major Christian denominations. Many of the services are very enjoyable. Strike up a friendship with some locals and you will have no problems finding an enjoyable Sunday experience despite the lack of commercial activity.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TONGA, Or Friendly Islands (So called by Captain Cook), an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about 350 m. S.S.W. of Samoa and 250 m. E.S.E. of Fiji. The long chain of islands, numbering about 150, though with a collective land area of only 385 sq. m., extends from 18° 5' to 22° 29' S. and 174° to 176° 10' W., and is broken into three groups, viz. the Tonga to the south, Hapai (which again is divided into three clusters) in the centre and Vavau to the north. The largest island is Tongatabu (the Sacred Tonga, Tasman's Amsterdam) in the southern group, measuring about 25 by io m., and 165 sq. m. in area, which contains the capital, Nukualofa. The vegetation is rich and beautiful, but the scenery tame, the land seldom rising above 60 ft.; Eua (Tasman's Middelburg), 9 m. south-east and 67 sq. m. in area, is 1078 ft. in extreme height, and much more picturesque, being diversified by rocks and woods. Vavau, in the northern group, is 55 sq. m. in extent and 300 ft. high. Next to these come the coral islands Nomuka and Lifuka in the Hapai group; Tofua, 2846 ft., Late or Lette, 1800 ft. and Kao, 3020 ft. high, which are volcanic and smaller. The numerous islets of the central group are very fertile. It is along the western side of the northern half of the chain that the line of volcanic action is apparent; the islands here (of which some are active volcanoes) are lofty. To the east the whole chain is bounded by a profound trough in the ocean bed, which extends southwestward, east of the Kermadec Islands, towards New Zealand. The majority of the Tonga Islands, however, are level, averaging 40 ft. high, with hills rising to 600 ft.; their sides are generally steep. The surface is covered with a rich mould unusual in coral islands, mixed towards the sea with sand, and having a substratum of red or blue clay. The soil is thus very productive, although water is scarce and bad. Barrier reefs are rare; fringing reefs are numerous, except on the east side, which is nearly free, and there are many small isolated reefs and volcanic banks among the islands. If the reefs impede navigation they form some good harbours. The best is on the south-western side of Vavau; another is on the north of Tongatabu. Earthquakes are not infrequent. From 1845 to 1857 volcanic eruptions were very violent, and islands once fertile were devastated and nearly destroyed. A new island rose from the sea, and was at once named " Wesley," but disappeared again. In 1886 there was a serious volcanic eruption in the outlying island of Nivafoou, and at the same time Falcon Reef, normally awash at high water, discharged sufficient scoriae and pumice to form a new island 50 ft. high. In 1898 the island had been washed away, but in 1 9 00 H.M.S. " Porpoise " found that a solid core of black rock had been extruded 6 ft. above high water. All the volcanoes in the group were then quiescent.

Table of contents

Geology

The line of volcanic action extends along the western side of the northern half of the chain. Some of the islands are built of volcanic rocks alone; such are Hongu-tonga and Hongu-hapai, which appear to be fragments of a single ancient crater, Tofua, Kao, Late, Metis, Amargua and Falcon Island. The lava is a basic augiteandesite. Another group of islands consists of elevated masses of submarine volcanic deposits, upon some of which coral-reef limestone forms a more or less complete covering; such are Tonumeia and the Nomuka group (Mango, Tonua, Nomuka-iki). All the volcanic rocks of these islands are submarine stratified tuffs which are penetrated here and there by andesite or diabase dikes. The Vavau group consists entirely of coral limestone, which is occasionally crystalline, and contains stalactitic caves of great beauty.

Climate, Flora, Fauna

The climate is healthy for Europeans, being dry and cool as compared with that of Samoa and Fiji. There are frequent alternations of temperature, which averages 75° to 77° F., though considerably higher in the wet season. Cool southeast trade winds blow, sometimes with great violence, from April to December. During the rest of the year the winds blow from west-north-west and north, with rain and occasional destructive hurricanes. A cyclone which devastated Vavau in April 1900 was the most destructive ever recorded in the group, but hurricanes are rare. The average rainfall for the year is about 80 ins. The vegetation is similar to that of Fiji, but more definitely Indo-Malayan in character; it embraces all the plants of the groups to the east with many that are absent there. Ferns abound, some of them peculiar, and tree ferns on the higher islands, and all the usual fruit trees and cultivated plants of the Pacific are found. There are several kinds of valuable timber trees. The only indigenous land mammalia are a small rat and a few curious species of bats. The dog and the pig were no doubt introduced by man. Of birds some 30 kinds are known, an owl being the only bird of prey; parrots, pigeons, kingfishers, honey-suckers, rails, ducks, and other water birds are numerous. There are snakes and small lizards, but no frogs or toads. Of insects there are relatively few kinds; but ants, beetles and mosquitoes abound. The fishes, of an Indo-Malay type, are varied and numerous. Turtle and sea-snakes abound, as do mollusca, of which a few are peculiar, and zoophytes.

Inhabitants

The population of the archipelago is about 19,000, of whom about 370 are whites or half-castes. The natives, a branch of the Polynesian race, are the most progressive and most intellectual in the Pacific Islands, except the Hawaiians. They have exercised an influence over distant neighbours, especially in Fiji, quite out of proportion to their numbers. Their conquests have extended as far as Niue, or Savage Island, 200 m. east, and to various other islands to the north. In Captain Cook's time Poulaho, the principal chief, considered Samoa to be within his dominions. This preeminence may perhaps be due to an early infusion of Fijian blood: it has been observed that such crosses are always more vigorous than the pure races in these islands; and this influence seems also traceable in the Tongan dialect, and appears to have been partially transmitted thence to the Samoan. Various customs, traditions and names of places also point to a former relation with Fiji. Their prior conversion to Christianity gave the Tongans material as well as moral advantages over their neighbours. Crime is infrequent, and morality, always above the Polynesian average, has improved. The people have strict notions of etiquette and gradations of rank. In disposition they are amiable and courteous, but arrogant, lively, inquisitive and inclined to steal - their attacks in earlier days on Europeans, when not caused by misunderstandings, being due probably to their coveting property which to them was of immense value. They are brave and not unenergetic, though the soft climate and the abundance of food discourage industry. They value children, and seldom practised infanticide, and cannibalism was rare. Their women are kindly treated, and only do the lighter work. Agriculture, which is well understood, is the chief industry. They are bold and skilful sailors and fishermen; other trades, as boat and house building, carving, cooking, net and mat making, are usually hereditary. Their houses are slightly built, but the surrounding ground and roads are laid out with great care and taste.

There were formerly (till the early 18th century) two sovereigns; the higher of these, called Tui Tonga (chief of "Tonga), was greatly reverenced but enjoyed little power. The real ruler and the chief officers of the state were members of the Tupou family, from which also the wife of the Tui Tonga was always chosen, whose descendants through the female line had special honours and privileges, under the title of tamaha, recalling the vasu of Fiji. The explanation of the dual kingship is probably this - the Tui Tonga were regarded as the direct descendants of the original head of the family from which the people sprang; regarded with reverence, and possessing unlimited power, they came to misuse this and discontent resulted, whereupon, to protect themselves, they appointed an executive deputy. Below these came the Eiki or chiefs, and next to them the class called Matapule. These were the hereditary counsellors and companions of the chiefs, and conveyed to the people the decisions formed at their assemblies. They also directed the national ceremonies, and preserved the popular traditions. While, under the control of Europeans, the Tongans have shown some aptitude for administration, they fail when left to themselves. They pick up superficial acquirements with astonishing ease, but seem to be incapable of mastering any subject. They write shorthand, but speak no English; they have a smattering of higher mathematics, yet are ignorant of book-keeping. Their government, effective enough when dealing with natives, breaks down in all departments concerned with Europeans, and becomes the prey of designing traders. Their ambition is to rank as a civilized state, and the flattery lavished on them by their teachers has spoiled them.

There are some ancient stone remains in Tongatapu, burial places (feitoka) built with great blocks, and a remarkable monument consisting of two large upright blocks morticed to carry a transverse one, on which was formerly a circular basin of stone.

Administration and Trade

In May 1900 the group became a British protectorate under the native flag, the appointment of the consul and agent being transferred to the government of New Zealand. In 1904 the financial and legal administration was put into the hands of the British High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. The native king is assisted by a legislative assembly consisting, in equal numbers, of hereditary nobles and popular (elected) representatives. The wisdom of King George Tupou in refusing to alienate an acre of land, except upon lease, has resulted in Tonga having been the last native state in the Pacific to lose its independence. There is a revenue of about L21,000 annually derived chiefly from a poll-tax, leases and customs. The principal exports are copra, bananas, oranges and fungus, and the annual values of exports and imports are £80,000 and 70,000 respectively on an average, though both fluctuate considerably. British coin is legal tender (since 1905). There are five churches in Tonga - the Free Wesleyans, embracing the great majority of the inhabitants, Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, and Seventh Day Adventists. These last are few; a still smaller number of natives are nominally Anglicans.

History

In 1616 the vessels of Jacob Lemaire and Willem Cornelis Schouten reached the island of Nivatoputapu, and had a hostile encounter with the natives. In 1643 Abel Tasman arrived at Tongatapu and was more fortunate. The next visit was that of Samuel Wallis in 1767, followed in 1773 by that of Captain Cook. In 1777 Cook returned, and stayed seven weeks among the islands. In 1799 a revolution, having its origin in jealousy between two natives of high rank, broke out. Civil war dragged on for many years - long after the deaths of the first leaders - but Taufaahau, who became king in 1845 under the name of George Tupou I., proved a strong ruler. In 1822 a Methodist missionary had arrived in the island, and others followed. The attempt to introduce a new faith led to renewed strife, this time between converts and pagans, but King George (who fully appreciated the value of intercourse with foreigners) supported the missionaries, and by 1852 the rebels were subdued. The missionaries, finding their position secure, presently began to take action in political affairs, and persuaded the king to grant a constitution to the Tongans, who welcomed it with a kind of childish enthusiasm, but were far from fitted to receive it. A triennial parliament, a cabinet, a privy council, and an elaborate judicial system were established, and the cumbrous machinery was placed in the hands of a " prime minister," a retired Wesleyan missionary, Mr Shirley Baker. Treaties of friendship were concluded with Germany, Great Britain, and the United States of America. Baker induced the king to break off his connection with the Wesleyan body in Sydney, and to set up a state church. Persecution of members of the old church followed, and in 1890 the missionary-premier had to be removed from the group by the high commissioner. He afterwards returned to initiate a new sect called the " Free Church of England," which for a time created further divisions among the people.

King George Tupou died in 1893 at the age of ninety-six, and was succeeded by his great-grandson under the same title.

Mr Basil Thomson (who after Baker's deportation had carried out reforms which the natives, when left alone, were incapable of maintaining) was sent in 1900 to conclude the treaty by which the king placed his kingdom under British protection.

See Captain Cook's Voyages and other early narratives; Martin, Mariner's account of the Tonga Islands (Edinburgh, 1827); Vason, Four Years in Tongatabu (London, 1815); A. Monfort, Les Tonga, on Archipel des Amis (Lyons, 1893); B. H. Thomson, The Diversions of a Prime Minister (London, 1894).


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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also tonga

Contents

English

Pronunciation

Proper noun

Singular
Tonga

Plural
-

Tonga

  1. A country in Oceania. Official name: Kingdom of Tonga.

Translations

See also

Appendix:Countries of the world

Anagrams

  • Anagrams of agnot
  • tango

Czech

Proper noun

Tonga

  1. Tonga

Finnish

Wikipedia-logo.png
Finnish Wikipedia has an article on:
Tonga

Wikipedia fi

Proper noun

Tonga

  1. Tonga

Declension


German

Wikipedia-logo.png
German Wikipedia has an article on:
Tonga

Wikipedia de

Proper noun

Tonga n.

  1. Tonga

Derived terms


Italian

Wikipedia-logo.png
Italian Wikipedia has an article on:
Tonga

Wikipedia it

Proper noun

Tonga f.

  1. Tonga

Derived terms

Anagrams

  • Anagrams of agnot
  • tango

Norwegian

Proper noun

Tonga

  1. Tonga

Related terms


Polish

Pronunciation

  • IPA: /ˈt̪ɔŋɡa/, rare: /ˈt̪ɔn̪ɡa/

Proper noun

Tonga n.

  1. Tonga

Derived terms

  • Tongijczyk m., Tongijka f.
  • adjective: tongijski







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