Tonga, the official name is the Kingdom of Tonga (Tong. Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga) is a state in Polynesia. It borders in the north with the waters of Samoa, in the east - with the territorial waters of Niue, in the west - with the waters of Fiji. The length of the coastal strip is 419 km. Tonga is located on 177 islands of the archipelago of the same name. The total area is 748 km². The population of the country is 100,651 people. (2016, estimate). The capital is Nuku'alofa.

The islands of Tonga were discovered by Dutch navigators Willem Schouten and Jacob Lehmer in 1616. In 1900, the archipelago became a British protected state. At the same time, Tonga retained all the rights to self-government. The islands gained independence in 1970. Tonga is a member of the UN, the South Pacific Commission and the Pacific Islands Forum.



Translated from many languages of Polynesia, the word Tonga means "south". Probably, the archipelago got this name because of its location south of the Samoan Islands, from where the colonization of Polynesia was carried out. The Tongans themselves translate the name of their country as "garden".

The English traveler James Cook named the archipelago in 1773 the Friendly Islands.


Physical and geographical characteristics

Geographical position
The Polynesian state of Tonga is a cluster of volcanic and coral islands located in the South Pacific Ocean. The country's capital, Nuku'alofa, is located about 1,770 km northeast of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and 690 km southeast of Suva, the capital of Fiji. The nearest archipelagos are the Fiji Islands, which belong to the state of the same name and are located northwest of the Tonga Islands, and the Samoa archipelago, which lies to the northeast and belongs to Samoa and American (Eastern) Samoa.

The total area of ​​Tonga is about 748 km². Of these, land - 718 km², water surface - 30 km². The country is located on 172 islands, of which only 36 are inhabited (the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe inhabited islands is about 650 km²). The largest island groups that make up the kingdom are the islands of Vavau, Tongatapu and Ha'apai. A minor group, the Niuas Islands, consists of three small islands, Niuafoou, Tafahi and Niuatoputapu, which are the northernmost islands of the country. The group is located far from the rest of the archipelagos: the island of Niuatoputapu is located about 300 km north of the nearest island group, Vavau. The Tonga archipelago stretches from north-northeast to south-southeast for about 631 km, and from east-southeast to west-northwest for about 209 km. The most important islands are Tongatapu (the capital is located on it), Vavau, Niuatoputapu, Niuafoou, Tafahi, Ha'apai and Eua. The highest point of the country, which reaches 1033 m, is located on the island of Khao.

The northernmost island of the Kingdom of Tonga is Niuafoou, the easternmost is Tafahi. The southernmost and at the same time the westernmost island is Ata Island.

On January 24, 1972, Tonga presented its claims to the Minerva reefs, located south of the kingdom, and already annexed them on June 15. As a result, the country's territorial waters were significantly expanded. This move was subsequently recognized by the South Pacific Forum. However, the ownership of the reefs is still disputed by Fiji.

The Tonga archipelago is located on the border of the Pacific and Australian lithospheric plates, to the west of the Tonga deep-sea trench and is an accumulation of volcanic, uplifted coral islands and reefs located on the tops of two underwater ridges parallel to each other. The oldest rock samples found on the island of Eua date back to the Eocene. However, this does not indicate that the island has always risen above the surface of the ocean. On the contrary, for many years he was under water. The exact time of existence of the islands of Tonga is unknown. However, it is likely that such "ancient" islands as Eua appeared about 5 or less million years ago (during the Pliocene-Pleistocene epoch). It can also be assumed that some islands appeared in the late Miocene or even the Neogene.

The volcanic islands include Ata, Hunga Ha'apai, Hunga Tonga, Khao, and Tofua in the Ha'apai group; Lathe and Fonualei in the Vavau group and two islands in the Niuas group. They formed on a volcanic arc stretching from the south (Ata Island) to the southeast and to the north and northwest. Within this arc, active geological processes have been observed in recent years, which were accompanied either by the formation (as a result of volcanic eruptions) or by the submergence of individual islands. In January 2015, the eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano formed a new volcanic island. As of early March 2015, the island is 1.8 km long and 1.2 km wide. The appearance of the new island was observed by geologists, marine services and local residents from ships, from personal boats, and from space, using satellites. One of the first views of the new island from space is published on the Internet. The new island connected with the island of Hunga-Haapai.

Some islands in the archipelago are surrounded by barrier and fringing reefs, such as the Niuas Islands. The Vavau group is predominantly represented by elevated volcanic or uplifted limestone islands, also surrounded by reefs. In the Ha'apai group, there are mainly elevated volcanic or low-lying limestone islands. The islands of Tongatapu and Eua are of limestone origin. The island of Tongatapu is characterized by a flat relief: a few hills reach a height of about 30 m. The coral base of the island is covered with volcanic ash up to 3 m deep.


Over the past two hundred years, more than 35 volcanic eruptions have been recorded on the islands. One of the largest volcanoes in Tonga with a height of 515 m is located on the island of Tofua, which is the top of an underwater stratovolcano. The width of the volcano caldera is 5 km, and there is also a caldera freshwater lake on it. The last recorded eruption occurred in 1960. The highest volcano in the country is located on the island of Kao: it rises to 1030 m above sea level. Other large volcanoes are located on the islands of Fonualei, Lata, Niuafou. The continued high volcanic activity in the region is often accompanied by the formation of small ephemeral islands. This was the case, for example, with Home Reef, when a small island formed after the 2006 eruption, and with Metis Reef, when an island 280 m in diameter and 43 m high was formed after the 1995 eruption.

Of particular interest to researchers are the huge erratic boulders on the west coast of Tongatapu Island, which may be evidence of a tsunami caused by volcanic activity. It is quite possible that this tsunami was the most powerful of all those evidence of which was discovered by scientists. According to local legends, these boulders were thrown by the god Maui, who tried to kill them with a huge bird that ate people. In total, seven such coral boulders were found, reaching a height of 9 m, weighing 1.6 million kg, and 100–400 m away from the coast.

There are no large mineral deposits on the islands of Tonga. Sand and limestone are mined in small volumes (at Tongatapu and Vavau). However, in 2008 large deposits of zinc, copper, silver and gold were found in the territorial waters of the country.



The climate of Tonga is hot, tropical, influenced by the southeast trade winds. The precipitation regime is largely associated with the South Pacific Convergence Zone. There are two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The wet season, also known as the cyclone season, runs from November to April, while the dry season runs from May to October. The rainiest months of the year are January, February and March, each of which can receive up to 250 mm of rain. The average annual rainfall varies significantly from year to year: abnormally rainy or, conversely, dry months often occur. The main reason for the variations is the El Niño phenomenon and tropical cyclones. During El Niño, long droughts are observed on the islands, and during cyclones, heavy rains are observed. In different parts of the country, the average annual precipitation also differs: the most precipitation falls on the northern islands - about 2500 mm per year (this is due to the seasonal proximity of the South Pacific Convergence Zone), the least - on the southern islands (about 1700 mm per year). In the capital of the state, the city of Nuku'alofa, about 1733 mm falls annually, in Lifuka - about 1689 mm, in Neiafu - 2185 mm. Since 1970, the trend for the islands in central and southern Tonga has been a decrease in rainfall.

The average annual air temperature in the country varies from 26°C at Niuafoou to 23°C at Tongatapu. During the hot rainy months (November-April), the temperature on the islands usually ranges between 25-26°C, and in the dry cool months (May-October) - between 21-24°C. At the same time, on the northern islands of the archipelago, the temperature difference, as a rule, is less than on the southern ones. The maximum temperature recorded on Vavau on February 11, 1979 was +35°C, the minimum recorded on September 8, 1994 in Fuaamotu was +8.7°C. The prevailing winds are from the southeast direction, which blow from May to October. During the cyclone season (November-March), the trade winds dominate.

Tonga is subject to the negative effects of tropical cyclones, which often reach destructive force. On average, at least one cyclone is recorded annually in the country. (usually one or two), most of which coincide with the rainy season. The largest number of cyclones, as a rule, is recorded in February.

The soils of most of the islands (except for young volcanoes) are highly fertile. They were formed mainly from andesitic volcanic ash, the layer of which lies on a limestone platform of coral origin. These soils have excellent physical properties: they are crumbly, well structured, have good drainage and moderate water holding capacity. Soil types range from acidic to alkaline with high calcium and magnesium content, high cation exchange capacity and base saturation.


The soils of the island of Tongatapu are highly fertile, therefore they are suitable for both growing crops and organizing pastures. In some coastal areas, soils are prone to salinization. The soils of Eua Island were formed from andesitic tephra that overlays tuff material and/or coral formations. They are mostly fertile, with the exception of the southern regions of the island, where coral rocks are exposed on the surface. The islands of the Ha'apai group are predominantly of coral origin. A serious problem is soil erosion, which significantly reduces the fertility of local soils. The soils of the Vavau group were formed mainly from volcanic ash up to 9 m thick, which lies on top of coral limestone.

The archipelago has a limited number of permanent sources of fresh water. Since water does not stay in the soil for long due to its porosity, residents mainly use either rainwater collected in concrete cisterns from the roofs, or water from small wells, through which it is possible to reach small lenses of slightly brackish water. Most of the aquifers, small lakes and streams of water are located on volcanic islands.

Lakes can be found on the islands of Vavau, Niuafou, Nomuka; small rivers - on Eua and Niuatoputapu.

Flora and fauna
The coral islands of Tonga are covered with lowland tropical forests dominated by calophylls. Nevertheless, in the past, a significant part of the virgin forests was cleared for agricultural purposes, therefore, at present, part of these areas is covered with secondary vegetation, with a predominance of thickets of lanthanum and psidium, as well as meadows of sorghum and millet. Barringtonia and scaevola grow in the coastal regions of the islands. Herbaceous plants predominate in the region of volcanic craters, and foggy tropical forests, or nephelogiles, are located on the peaks of the Khao and Tafahi volcanoes. Extensive tropical forests are preserved only on uninhabited and volcanic islands with sheer cliffs.

In total, about 770 species of vascular plants have been recorded in Tonga, including 70 species of ferns (three of which are endemic, including Dryopteris macroptera and Cyathea rugosula), three species of gymnosperms (of which one species, Podocarpus pallidus, is endemic) and 698 species of angiosperms (of which nine are endemic). The species diversity on the islands varies. For example, about 340 species of plants grow on the island of Tongatapu, and 107 species on Vavau.

The fauna of the country is extremely poor and is represented mainly by introduced species. The archipelago is home to 12 species of reptiles (one species is endemic) and 2 species of bats, which are the only indigenous mammals of the islands. Sea turtles, mollusks, fish are found in coastal waters.

A large number of birds live and nest on the archipelago. At the same time, before the settlement of the islands by the Polynesians, the world of the avifauna was much more diverse: with the advent of people in Tonga, at least 23 species of birds disappeared. In total, 73 species of birds have been recorded in the archipelago, 2 of which are endemic: Pachycephala jacquinoti (from the Australian whistler family), living on the Vavau Islands, and Megapodius pritchardii (largefoot family), living on the island of Niuafoou. On some islands there are bird colonies where seabirds nest.

On the territory of Tonga there are two national parks (on the island of Eua and Mount Talau on the island of Vavau) and six reserves.



Polynesians began to settle the islands of Tonga as early as the 13th century BC. The islands of Tonga played a connecting role, served as a starting point from which the further development of Oceania began. The Tongans made long voyages, attacking the inhabitants of many islands of Oceania and imposing tribute on them.

Starting from the 10th century, the hereditary power of the "sacred" leaders of the Tui-Tong was established on the islands of Tonga, Samoa and part of Fiji. The founder of the dynasty was Ahoeitu. In the middle of the 15th century, a reform of power took place, and the deputies of the Tui-Tong, who bore the title of Tui-haatakalaua, began to play the main role in administration. The Tui-haatakalaua performed civil power functions and began to have real power, while the Tui-tonga received nominal power (in fact, they were left to perform ritual functions). The next stage, at the beginning of the 17th century, marked the loss of power of the tui-haatakalula. The real power passed to the minister of war, who bore the title of tui-kanokupolu, and after 100 years the title of the former rivals of tui-haatakalaula was eliminated.

Mua was the capital of the archipelago from 1200 to 1851. It was there that the British traveler James Cook landed in 1773, 1774, 1777, giving them the name "Friendship Islands". Since 1797, Christian missionaries began to arrive in Tonga, but only in 1828 did they manage to establish themselves in the archipelago and begin converting the Tongans to Christianity.

In 1845, leaving no heirs, the last, thirty-ninth, Tui-tonga Laufilitonga died. Taking advantage of this, George Tupou I, who ruled the Tui-kanokupolu Oneou, concentrated power in one hand and proclaimed himself the king of Tonga. Relying on the support of Christian missionaries, he carried out a number of reforms that strengthened the feudal system and royal power, and also laid the foundations for the state system and social relations, which have survived in many ways to the present day. In the 1870s and 1880s, France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States signed treaties with Tonga recognizing the independence of the kingdom.

In the period from 1900 to 1970, the Kingdom of Tonga was under the protectorate of Great Britain. At the same time, local kings retained their power. In 1970, the islands of Tonga gained independence.


Political structure

Political system
Tonga is a hereditary constitutional monarchy. The only kingdom in Oceania (except for those states where the monarch of Great Britain is formally the head). The current Constitution of the country was granted by King George Tupou I on November 4, 1875. Her appearance was an important stage in the state development of the Kingdom and the culminating moment in the political activities of Tupou I to modernize Tongan society and ensure internal stability and unity of the country. Thanks in part to the Constitution, the Kingdom remained the only independent island state in Oceania throughout the 19th century.

The Constitution of Tonga consists of 3 sections and 115 articles and is one of the "hard" constitutions, that is, to change it, a number of conditions must be met. The Legislative Assembly is vested with the right to amend the fundamental law of the country. To do this, the amendment must go through three readings in the assembly, and then submitted to the king. If the Privy Council of Tonga and the Cabinet are unanimous in favor of a constitutional amendment, it must be approved by the king. Once signed by the king, the amendment comes into force. However, the articles dealing with the "law of freedom" (meaning the "Declaration of Rights" with which the Constitution begins), the principle of succession to the throne, and titles / hereditary estates of local peers are not subject to change.

Tonga is currently undergoing a phased political reform. Especially for these purposes, in 2008, a Constitutional and Electoral Commission consisting of 5 people was created, the main purpose of which was to develop proposals for amending the sections of the Constitution devoted to the executive, electoral power, the principles of the relationship between them, as well as changes to the electoral law of Tonga. In April 2010, based on the proposals of the Commission, the Parliament of the country made changes to the current electoral system. The number of representatives in the legislature elected by the people was increased (from 9 to 17 people). As a result, for the first time in the history of Tonga, the number of people's deputies surpassed the number of deputies from among the peers. In addition, the number of deputies elected from some constituencies was increased: from Tongatapu - ten (instead of three) and from Vavau - three (instead of two). The first parliamentary elections under the new system were held in November 2010.

The head of state is the king. The principle of succession to the throne is enshrined in Article 32 of the current Constitution. The heir to the throne must be born in wedlock. The throne is transferred to the eldest son, and in case of death - to his heirs. If the eldest son has no children, then the throne is transferred to the second oldest son (that is, the younger brother of the eldest son) or his heirs, and so on through the male line. If the male line is interrupted in the royal family, then the throne is inherited by the eldest daughter and her heirs (and further according to the same principle as in the male line). If there are no heirs left in the female line, then the throne is transferred to the descendants and legal heirs of William Tunga (former governor of Vavau, prince consort and prime minister of Tonga). If there are no legitimate heirs along this line, then the king can independently (with the approval of the House of Peers) appoint his heir during his lifetime. If this has not been done, then the Prime Minister or the Cabinet in his absence must convene the peers of the Legislative Assembly, which, at a meeting of the House of Peers, must choose one of the leaders as king by vote, thus founding a new royal dynasty.

Any member of the royal family who is endowed with the right of succession to the throne has no right to marry without the consent of the king, otherwise, a potential heir who has acted in this way against the will of the king may be deprived of his legal rights to the throne. In addition, the throne cannot pass to a person who has committed a criminal offense or who is of unsound mind or imbecile.


According to the Constitution, the person of the king is sacred, and he himself is the master of all the leaders and all the people of Tonga. He runs the country, but the ministers are responsible. All bills passed through the Legislative Assembly must be signed by the king before they can take effect. The King of Tonga is the supreme commander of the land and sea forces of the country. He appoints all officers, regulates the training and control of military forces, has the right to declare war (with the permission of the Legislative Assembly). The King of Tonga has the right to pardon (with the permission of the Privy Council), the right to convene and dissolve the Legislative Assembly at its own discretion, the right to sign agreements with foreign states (provided that these agreements comply with the internal legislation of the Kingdom), appoint diplomatic representatives of Tonga in other states, award honorary titles. The King cannot change customs duties without the consent of the Legislative Assembly.

The representatives of the peers and the representatives of the people shall sit in the same House. The Legislative Assembly consists of members of the Privy Council and the Cabinet (as peers), representatives of the peers and representatives of the people of the country. Representatives of the peers (the total number in the Assembly is 9 people) are elected by the peers of the Kingdom from among its members every three years. Representatives of the people (total number - 17 people) are also elected by the electorate every three years. In the latter case, all citizens who are endowed with active suffrage have the right to vote. The Speaker of the Assembly is appointed by the King from among the peers elected to the legislature.

According to the Constitution of Tonga, the King and the Legislative Assembly have the right to make laws. After the bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly by a majority of votes in three readings, the bill must be submitted to the King for approval. After signing by the King, the bill is subject to official publication (the date of publication is the date of entry into force of the law). In turn, the King has the right to reject the bill. In this case, the bill can only be considered by the Legislative Assembly at the next session.

executive branch
Tonga has a Cabinet of Ministers, consisting of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Land Management, the Minister of Law and Order and such other ministers as the King deigns to appoint. It is royal prerogative to appoint all ministers. Ministers hold their posts for as long as the monarch wishes, or for such period of time as is determined in their committees. At the same time, one minister can combine several posts. Ministers may be removed from office by the Legislative Assembly if their activities are contrary to law. Cabinet ministers are simultaneously members of the Privy Council and the Legislative Assembly as peers. Each minister is required to draw up an annual report informing the King of the activities of the ministry. The King, in turn, delivers the report to the Legislative Assembly. If the Assembly has questions regarding the activities of one of the ministries, then any of the ministers in charge of this ministry must answer these questions.

The King, with the consent of the Cabinet, appoints the governors of the districts of Ha'apai and Vavau, who are both members of the Legislative Assembly and the Privy Council of Tonga. Governors are responsible for enforcing laws in their districts,

Under the King, there is a Privy Council, which assists the monarch in the implementation of a number of his functions. It is composed of members of the Minister's Cabinet, governors and any other person the King deems fit. No order of the King and of the Privy Council shall take effect without the signature of the respective ministers who are responsible for the order.

Judicial branch
The judicial system of Tonga includes the Privy Council, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, the Magistrates Court and the Land Court.


The Privy Council of Tonga is an advisory body to the King, which also performs some judicial functions. In the event that the case was considered in the Supreme Court, then both parties to the trial have the right to appeal to the Privy Council, which must again hear the case. The decision of the Privy Council is final, but it cannot re-examine the criminal case: the Privy Council in this case can only advise the King to release the person from liability or mitigate the punishment. At the same time, no decision of the council can enter into force without the signature of the responsible minister. In addition, an appeal can be lodged with the Privy Council against the decision of the Regional Court in matters of hereditary possessions and titles. The decision in this case is also final.

The Court of Appeal of Tonga is composed of the Chief Justice of the Realm and other judges appointed by the King with the consent of the Privy Council. The Court of Appeal has the exclusive right and jurisdiction to hear cases and decide on appeals against decisions of the Supreme or Land Courts (with the exception of matters related to hereditary possessions and titles).

The Supreme Court of Tonga consists of the Chief Justice and other judges appointed by the King with the consent of the Privy Council (if necessary, the Constitution provides for a jury). The Supreme Court is vested with the exclusive right to hear cases of common law and the law of equity in matters of violation of the Constitution and laws of the Kingdom, as well as matters relating to international treaties with foreign states, ministers and consuls, and cases concerning diplomatic agents, consuls and the law of the sea.

Active suffrage for participation in elections of representatives of the people in the Legislative Assembly is granted to all citizens of Tonga who have reached the age of 21, who regularly pay taxes, can read and write, are not mentally ill and feeble-minded. Active and passive suffrage is deprived of a person accused of a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for more than two years. This person shall not be allowed to vote again until he has been pardoned by the King and has received a declaration that he is exempt from the above restrictions.

For elections to the Legislative Assembly, the country is divided into 5 constituencies: Tongatapu, Haapai, Vavau, Eua and Niuafoou-Niuatoputapu. Three representatives from peers and ten representatives from the people are elected from Tongatapu (until 2010 - three), from Vavau - two representatives from peers and three representatives from the people (until 2010 - two), from Haapai - two representatives from peers and two representatives from the people, from Eua and Niuafoou-Niuatoputapu, one representative from the peers and one representative from the people (while the representatives from the peers for the district of Eua are elected from the peers of Tongatapu).

Local government and self-government system
The system of local government in Tonga is not legally fixed. There are no village councils in the country that would manage the villages. All power is in the hands of the central government, where various rules and regulations are developed to regulate society in general and, in particular, cities and villages. To manage the latter, the country is divided into districts (English district) and cities (English town), headed respectively by the heads of districts (English District Officer) and cities (English Town Officer), who are elected every three years by the population of districts / cities.

The competence of the heads of districts includes: control over health care (should report every quarter on sanitary conditions in all cities of the district), agriculture, finance and other issues determined by current legislation. The competence of the heads of cities includes: control over order, health care, agriculture, convening fono (local councils), assisting the head of the district.


Political parties

There are three political parties in the country: the Human Rights and Democracy Movement, the Sustainable State Building Party (Tong. Paati Langafonua Tu'uloa), and the People's Democratic Party.


The country's largest party, the Movement for Human Rights and Democracy, was founded in the late 1970s and registered under its current name in 2002. The People's Democratic Party was founded on April 8, 2005 as a result of a split from the Movement for Human Rights and Democracy, and officially registered on July 1, 2005. The country's newest party is the Sustainable State Building Party, founded on 4 August 2007 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Armed forces
Tonga has a permanent armed force known as the Tonga Defense Services. Their main functions are the protection of the Kingdom, the support of civil power, assistance to it in maintaining order and other functions and duties, the implementation of which is entrusted to them by the King. The armed forces consist of regular (English Regular Force), territorial army (English Territorial Force) and reserve (English Reserve).

The Tongans took part in the First World War as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and at the beginning of the Second World War, the Defense Forces were created, which, however, were disbanded by the end of the war (re-formed in 1946).

Since 2002, the ground forces (royal guard) and the Naval forces of Tonga (including the royal marines and aviation unit) have been allocated as part of the armed forces of Tonga. In total, 430 people served in the armed forces (as of 2007), supported by Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Recently, there has been a trend towards a slight increase in numbers.

In recent years, Tongan army units have taken part in peacekeeping operations in the Solomon Islands, as well as in the international coalition forces in Iraq (the Tongan mission was withdrawn from the country in December 2008).


Law enforcement

Tonga has a police force (English Tonga Police Force). Number for 2000 - 420 people, territorially divided into 4 police departments + training center + special group. The headquarters is located in Nuku'alofa.

Their main function is to maintain law and order, preserve peace, protect life and property, prevent and detect crime, and other functions provided by law. The Tongan police force is headed by the Minister of Police, who is responsible to the Cabinet.

In 2005, 2932 crimes were committed in the country (in 2002 - 2517). Of these: against the person of a person - 652, property - 1952.

Foreign policy and international relations
Tonga maintains diplomatic relations with many countries of the world, including Russia. The Kingdom has the longest history of bilateral relations with France: relations with it were established back in 1855 with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship. However, only Australia, China, New Zealand and Japan have their embassies or high commissioners in the capital of this Pacific state, in the city of Nuku'alofa. The only diplomatic representations of Tonga in the form of an embassy are located in Beijing (PRC) and Tokyo (Japan). The country also has a permanent representative to the UN (concurrently he is an ambassador to the US), honorary consuls in London (UK) and San Francisco (USA) and trade representatives in Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Tonga were established on October 14, 1977. In December 1991, the Russian Federation was recognized as the legal successor of the USSR. Russian ambassadors to New Zealand are concurrently ambassadors to the Kingdom of Tonga, so there is no Russian embassy in the country.

The Kingdom of Tonga is a member of the UN, WTO, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Pacific Islands Forum, Commonwealth of Nations, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and other international organizations.


Administrative division

Administratively, the Kingdom of Tonga is divided into five administrative districts: Vavau, Niuas, Tongatapu, Ha'apai and Eua. Districts, in turn, are divided into districts and villages.

The Vavau district includes 6 districts of Neiafu, Leimatua, Hahake, Pangaimotu, Hihifo and Motu. Niuas County consists of 2 districts: Niuatoputapu and Niuafoou. Tongatapu District consists of 7 districts: Kolofou, Kolomotua, Waini, Tatakamotonga, Lapaha, Nukunuku and Kolovai. Ha'apai District consists of 6 districts: Lifuka, Foa, Uiha, Lulunga, Kauvai-Khaano and Muomua. Eua County consists of 2 districts: Eua Motua and Eua Foou.



Number and placement

A national population census has been conducted in Tonga on a regular basis since 1921. However, there are also statistical data obtained in even earlier years (for example, in 1891). Since 1956, a population census has been carried out every ten years (the last one took place in 2006).

According to the 2006 census (data from the Department of Statistics of Tonga), the population of the country was 101,991 people. By 2011, according to the census, this figure had increased to 103,252 people. The population growth rate in Tonga - 1.236% - is relatively low compared to other countries in Oceania: 1.669% according to a 2008 estimate. The 2006 census showed an increase in the population by 4.3% compared with the 1996 census, that is, by 4207 people (with an annual increase of 0.4%).

For statistical purposes, Tonga is divided into five districts: Tongatapu, Vavau, Ha'apai, Eua and Niuas. In 2011, the most populous county was Tongatapu with a population of 75,416 (73.0%). 14,922 people (14.5%) lived in Vavau, 6,616 people (6.4%) in Ha'apai, 5,016 people (4.9%) in Eua, and 1,282 people (1.2%) in Niuas. Population growth was recorded only in Tongatapu (4.7% compared to 2006). In other districts, a decrease in population was noted: in Vavau - by 3.9%, in Ha'apai - by 11.4%, Eua - 10.4% and in Niuas - by 13.0%. One of the main reasons for the low rates is the emigration of the population either to the island of Tongatapu or abroad.

There are large diasporas of people from Tonga in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. In 2001, there were 40,700 Tongans registered in New Zealand (about 18% of the Oceanian peoples living in New Zealand). Most of them (78%) lived in the city of Auckland, 5% - in Wellington. In Australia in 2006, there were 7,580 Tongans registered (in 2001 - 7,720 people), most of whom lived in the states of New South Wales (4,920 people, or 65%) and Victoria (1,190 people, or 15.7%). In addition, there is a large diaspora in the United States: in 2000 - 27,686 people, or 7.3% of the population of the peoples of Oceania living in the States. The main places of settlement are the states of Utah, California and Hawaii.

The census also showed that in Tongatapu district, the population increased in all districts except Lapah, where there was a 2% decrease in population. The highest increase was recorded in the Vaini region - by 12%. In Vavau County, population increased the most in Pangaimotu district, by 8%, while declines were recorded in Motu (by 43%) and Hihifo (by 5%). In Ha'apai County, the population fell in all districts except Foa (up 3%). In Eua, population growth was observed in two areas, while in Niuas, on the contrary, a decline.

The highest population density in 2011 was registered in Tongatapu district - 283.52 people per km², while in the country this figure was 138.04 people per km² (the lowest density was in Niuas district, 17.09 people per km² ). Compared to the 2006 census data, population density has decreased in Vavau, Ha'apai, Eua and Niuas districts, and has increased only in Tongatapu district.

In 2011, the proportion of the urban population of the Kingdom of Tonga was 23.47% (or 24,229 people). They all lived in the urban settlements of Kolofoo, Kolomotua and Maufanga on the island of Tongatapu. In 2006, the urban population was 23,658. Thus, over ten years, this figure increased by 2.41%.

In 2011, men accounted for 50.34% (51,979 people), women - 49.66% (51,273 people). The proportion of children under 15 years old in 2011 was 37.3%, of the adult population from 15 to 59 years old - 54.4%, over 60 years old - 8.3%, thus, the average age of the population was 21.0 years. The average life expectancy for men, according to a 2008 estimate, is 67.9 years, for women, 73.1 years.


Ethnic composition

The population of Tonga is homogeneous: according to the 2011 census, 96.5% of the inhabitants were Tongans, representatives of the indigenous Polynesian people, 1.04% were representatives of mixed marriages of Tongans and other peoples. The share of foreigners (Europeans, immigrants from other Pacific Islanders and Asians) is minimal. In relation to 1996, an increase in the number of Chinese, Indians, and also Fijians was noted.

In 2006, the number of Chinese in Tonga was 395 people, while in 1996 only 55 representatives of this people lived in the country. According to the 2011 census, their number increased to 843 people. The first ethnic Chinese appeared in the archipelago as early as the 1920s as Anglican priests, and in 1974 the first Taiwanese businessman appeared in Tonga. The significant growth of the Chinese population in the Kingdom in the last decade of the 20th century was, for the most part, due to the fact that in the 1990s the Tongan government sold its country's passports to the Chinese and Hong Kong residents, thus earning significant sums. Passports were mainly acquired by Chinese citizens. As a result, by 2001 there were about 120 Chinese-owned stores in the capital, Nuku'alofa. However, the influx of Chinese immigrants is causing resentment among the local population, who fear their economic dominance. In addition, unemployment has risen among the Tongans. In 1999, the Tongan Chinese Association registered 40 cases of harassment of Chinese entrepreneurs, including assaults. In 2000, Nukunuku County authorities banned all Chinese shops. In 2001, there were already about 100 racially motivated attacks organized by Tongans against the Chinese in the country. Growing tensions in society even forced the Prime Minister of Tonga, Prince Ulakalal Lawak Ata, to refuse to renew work permits for 600 Chinese. They were also ordered to leave the country within 12 months. In 2006, another riot took place in Nuku'alofa, organized against Chinese entrepreneurs. This led to further emigration of several hundred more Chinese. Despite the bad attitude from the local population, a significant number of Chinese still live in Tonga, most of whom are not going to leave their business in the archipelago.



In addition to English, the official language of the country is Tongan, one of the numerous languages ​​of the Polynesian group of Austronesian languages, along with Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tahitian and others. Together with the Niue language, Tongan forms the Tongan subgroup of the Polynesian group of languages. The writing of the language was created in the first half of the 19th century by European missionaries. The total number of Tongan speakers in 1998 was 96,334.

The language uses the Latin alphabet. It consists of only 16 letters: 5 vowels and 11 consonants. The longitude of vowel sounds plays an important role in oral speech, which can change the meaning of a word. In writing, longitude is indicated by a macron, or tholoi (for example, "ā"), and a glottal stop, or a voiceless guttural plosive, is indicated by an apostrophe ("ʻ").

The country also has speakers of another Pacific language, Niuafoou, which was spoken by 690 people in 1981 (used on the islands of Niuafoou and Eua). Until the 19th century, the island of Niuatoputapu also had its own local language, but after the annexation by George Tupou I in June 1862, it was completely replaced by the Tongan language.

According to a 1998 estimate, 98.9% of the country's population could read and write in Tongan or English.


Religious composition

The dominant religion in Tonga is Christianity. The first attempt by Christian missionaries to land in the archipelago was made by missionaries from the London Missionary Society in 1797. However, she was unsuccessful. The first permanent Christian mission was established in the islands of Tonga only in 1826.

According to the 2011 census, the majority of Tongans (36,592 or 35.4%) were members of the Free Wesleyan Church. 18.0% (18,554 people) were representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 15.0% (15,441 people) - the Roman Catholic Church, 11.5% (11,863 people) - the Free Church of Tonga, 6.7% (6935 people) - Church of Tonga, 2.5% (2602 people) - Assemblies of God, 2.45% (2533 people) - Tokaikolo Christian Church, 2.26 % (2331 people) - Seventh-day Adventist Church, 0.93% (961 people) - Constitutional Church of Tonga, 0.71% (728 people) - Anglican Church, 1.97 % (2029 people) - other Christian teachings and religions. At the same time, only 288 people declared that they were atheists, and 1034 people refused to say about their religious affiliation. Although the Free Wesleyan Church remains the dominant church in Tonga, recent censuses have seen a decline in adherents, as is the case with the Roman Catholic Church, the Free Church of Tonga, the Church of Tonga, Tokaikolo Christian Church, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The share of adherents of other doctrines and religions, on the contrary, has increased (the most significant growth is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has overtaken the Roman Catholic Church).

The Free Wesleyan Church (Tong. Siasi Uesiliana Tau‘ataina ‘o Tonga) is the largest Christian (Methodist) church in the Kingdom of Tonga, whose permanent members are representatives of the royal family. The church was formed in 1924 with the consent of Queen Salote Tupou III as a result of the union of two branches of the Methodist movement - the Free Church of Tonga (it was established in 1885 by order of King George Tupou I) and the Wesleyans.

The first Catholic missionaries landed on the islands of Tonga in 1837, but permission to establish a permanent mission was received only in 1842. The existing Catholic society at that time was subordinate to the Apostolic Vicariate of Central Oceania, which was created on August 23, 1842. The Apostolic Vicariate of Tonga was only established on April 13, 1937. On June 21, 1966, an independent diocese was created in the archipelago.

The first representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived in Tonga in 1891, but the mission was closed six years later. It was restored only in 1916. Currently, it is one of the most dynamically developing religious movements in the Kingdom. According to the Church, Tonga has the highest proportion of adherents of this religious organization in the world in relation to the population of the country - 54,281 members. However, according to official data from the 2006 census, there are 17,109 followers of this religion in the Kingdom. On the main island of Tonga, Tongatapu, is the only temple of a religious organization in the country.

Since 2011, the Russian Orthodox Mission has been operating in Tonga - The Tongan Orthodox Mission (TOM).

The country's constitution guarantees freedom of religion.



general characteristics
The characteristics that determine the economic situation in Tonga are no different from those of other countries in Oceania: a huge exclusive economic zone, limited natural resources, remoteness from the main world markets, and a shortage of highly qualified specialists. At the same time, the main factors that can damage the economic stability on the islands are natural disasters (mainly droughts and cyclones) and fluctuations in world markets. This is due to the fact that the basis of Tonga's exports are goods (zucchini, vanilla, fish, kava), which are very sensitive to natural processes, and the country itself is an economic agent that cannot influence pricing in global markets. Remoteness from the main sales markets leads not only to high transport costs, hinders the international mobility of production factors, but also prevents the penetration of various commercial and technical know-how into the country.

According to the CIA, according to a 2007 estimate, the country's GDP at purchasing power parity was about $526 million, and GDP per capita was $5,100. Between 1973 and 1995, annual economic growth, which was largely determined by government spending and the level of remittances from abroad, was about 1.8%. Real GDP growth averaged 2.2% between 1994 and 2001, with rates ranging from 0.1% to 6.2%, reflecting the economy's dependence on sectors such as agriculture and tourism. According to the 2007 estimate, GDP growth was negative: -3.5%, which was a reflection of the weakening of the Tongan economy.

One of the important sectors of the economy of Tonga is agriculture. Nevertheless, in recent years there has been a decrease in the share of this sector in the country's GDP. For example, in 1994/1995, the share of agriculture in GDP was 34%, and in 2005/2006 this figure fell to 25%. This is due to the diversification of the local economy, as a result of which the role of the service sector has significantly increased. The main goal of this process is to expand the economic base of Tonga in order to strengthen the economy in case of future external shocks. Agriculture provides the country with food, jobs, materials for construction and crafts, and stimulates the inflow of foreign currency.

The main crops are coconut palm (copra is produced from the oily endosperm of the nuts of this plant), bananas, vanilla, zucchini, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper.

Fish is one of the national wealth of Tonga, which plays a very important role in the economy and life of the country. For the domestic market, fish is mainly caught within the reefs and lagoons and serves as the main source of proteins for the local population.

The country has a large exclusive economic zone, the area of ​​​​which is about 700 thousand km². The state budget is also replenished by issuing licenses to foreign vessels for the right to fish in this economic zone, while the income from licensing is largely dependent on weather conditions (mainly El Niño and La Niña events). The main interest for foreign ships is tuna.

In the late 1960s, commercial lobster harvesting began in Tonga, with an annual rate of around 36 metric tons. However, in recent years there has been a decrease in this figure. In addition, various types of sea mollusks are grown: some of them are for domestic consumption, and the shells are used to make souvenirs for tourists. The government also made attempts to breed oysters and pearl mussels, however, for the most part, these experiments were unsuccessful. The breeding of these mollusks in the country began in the early 1960s, and in 1975 the government of Tonga established an experimental enterprise for the cultivation of lionfish (lat. Pteria penguin), which were specially imported from Japan for this purpose. In 1993, the process of establishing commercial pearl farms was initiated on the Vavau Islands for the first time.



One of the obstacles to the development of the road network in the country is the lack of land resources, as well as the existing land use regime. In addition, most of the roads were built with funds received from foreign countries. In 2000, Tonga's highways were only 680 km long. Of these, 184 km were paved. There is no rail transport in the country, although there was previously a narrow gauge railway on the island of Tongatapu, which passed through the center of Nuku'alofa to the port and served for the export of copra.

Air transportation between the islands of Tonga is carried out by the private Tongan airline REALtonga, founded in 2013. The main international airlines operating flights to the country are currently Air Pacific, Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue. In total, in 2007, 6 airports operated in the country, but only one of them (Fuaamotu International Airport) had a hard-surfaced runway. The second largest airport is Vavau Airport.

Most of the islands have public transport, there are taxis (the letter “T” on the license plates). The largest port of the country is Nuku'alofa.

The press of Tonga is represented by three weekly publications: the Tonga Chronicle newspaper (Tong. Ko e Kalonikali Tonga) belongs to the government of the country and is published weekly on Fridays in two languages, Tongan and English (the circulation of the newspaper in Tongan is about 5 thousand copies, in English - 1 .5 thousand.); Times of Tonga (Tong. Taimi o Tonga) is privately owned and published in Auckland, New Zealand twice a week with a separate issue for the Tonga Islands (founded April 1989.); the magazine "Matangi Tonga" is also private. Several other printed publications are published in the country: "Lao moe Hia" (publication of court cases; in Tongan), "Ko e Kele'a" (political commentary.) and several religious publications.

The islands have one AM station ("Radio Tonga 1"), four FM stations: "Kool 90FM" (owned by the Government Broadcasting Commission of Tonga), "Radio 2000" (private radio station), 93FM (private religious), "Radio Nuku 'alofa' (private). In 2004, three companies provided television services in Tonga: Tonga Broadcasting Commission (eng. Tonga Broadcasting Commission, the government organization that owns the channels "Television Tonga" and "TV Tonga 2"), "Tonfon" (pay cable television), "Friendly Island Broadcasting Network (a private company providing services to Vava'u).

Various types of telecommunication services are available on the islands, including telephony and the Internet. In 2007, there were over 21,000 home phones and 46,500 mobile phones in use in the country. 8400 people used the Internet.



For a long time, the tourism sector of the economy of Tonga was relatively poorly developed. Only in 1966, the government of the kingdom took the first major step towards the development of tourism in the archipelago: the largest hotel in the country, the International Dateline Hotel, was built. Currently, tourism plays an important role in the economy of Tonga, being one of the main sources of foreign exchange inflows. In 2004, 41,208 tourists visited the country, which is almost 10,000 more than in 1999, when 30,949 people visited the country. The country is mainly visited by tourists from New Zealand, Australia and the United States. In 2003, the main purposes of the trip for those who arrived in Tonga were spending vacations on the islands, as well as visiting friends and relatives, and the main types of recreation for foreigners were diving, sport fishing, cultural tourism, sailing on a yacht, surfing, camping.

Citizens of several states, including such former republics of the USSR as Russia, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania, do not need a visa to enter the country. As a rule, it is issued free of charge at the airport when entering the Kingdom. Validity period is 1 month. Obligatory conditions for obtaining it are a return ticket and a sufficient amount of funds for a holiday in Tonga. However, citizens of a number of countries are required to obtain a visa before entering the country.

Foreign economic relations
Tonga's main exports are: vegetables, raw fish, fruits and nuts, cassava, melons, lumber; main imports: food (mainly meat and dairy products), machinery, equipment, vehicles and chemical products. In 2017, the volume of exports amounted to $15 million, and imports - $103 million.

The main partners in 2017 were: in terms of export - the USA (28%), South Korea (23%), New Zealand (17%), Australia (12%), Japan (11%); imports - New Zealand (29%), China (27%), USA (12%), Japan (6%).


Monetary system and finance

The monetary unit of Tonga is the paanga, put into circulation on April 3, 1967 (before that, the Tongan pound was used). By itself, it is not a convertible currency, and its rate is pegged to a basket of currencies consisting of the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, US dollar and Japanese yen. There are 7 coins in circulation in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 seniti, as well as 7 banknotes in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 paanga.

The 2007-2008 budget (the fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30) had expenditures of $109.8 million and revenues of $80.48 million. The largest expenditure items of the budget are expenditures on housing and communal services, the economy, and healthcare. Among the incomes, the most important are receipts from taxes and duties, and indirect taxes play a decisive role.

An important source of replenishment of the country's budget are also postage stamps, which are of interest to philatelists from all over the world.

The domestic banking system of Tonga is represented by three foreign (Westpac Bank of Tonga, ANZ Bank, Malaysian Banking finance) and one local bank (Tonga Development Bank). These banks are overseen by the National Reserve Bank of Tonga, which is the country's central bank.



Social organization

Modern Tongan society, like the traditional one, is distinguished by a high stratification of the population and a hierarchy. Nevertheless, over several centuries, significant changes have taken place in the division of society into ranks, which have largely smoothed out the differences in society between representatives of different social groups. There are three main social groups in Tongan society: representatives of the royal family, or ha'a tu'i (Tong. Ha'a Tu'i), nobility / leaders, or hou'eiki (Tong. hou'eiki), and common people , or kau tu'a (Tong. kau tu'a). All titles are still hereditary and, as a rule, are transmitted exclusively through the male line. The constitution of 1875 introduced a new rank on the islands - the landed aristocracy, or nopele (Tong. nōpele).

The social organization of society in the islands of Tonga, which involves a hierarchy of the population depending on their status and power, largely operates on the basis of the family system, or family (Tong. famili), and extended family, or kainga (Tong. kainga). The Tongan family consists of a married couple and their children who live in the same house, and the Kainga consists of all relatives living in one or more villages. A significant role in determining the status of a person is played by his gender and age. For example, the position of a woman in Tongan society is traditionally considered more privileged than that of a man. However, inheritance of land or titles is through the male line. The status of children is usually determined by the order of birth, gender, place of birth, status and authority of their parents.



special leaves in underground kilns. A variety of mollusks that were eaten raw were considered a delicacy. Drinks made from coconut milk were widely distributed. The ancient inhabitants of the archipelago also raised pigs, but they were slaughtered only on special occasions, such as holidays.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many foods and plants that were brought to the islands by Europeans appeared in the diet of local residents, such as onions, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, oranges, lemons and cassava, which was easier to grow than traditional yams. In addition, watermelons appeared, which gained great popularity in the archipelago: they began to make a non-alcoholic soft drink 'otai (Tong. ‘otai) (a mixture of watermelon juice, coconut milk and, possibly, juices of other fruits - for example, mango and pineapple) from them.

Among the traditional dishes of Tonga are:
Lu-pulu (Tong. lu pulu) is corned beef baked in taro leaves along with onions and coconut milk.
Lu-sipi (Tong. lu sipi) is the same as lu-pulu, but made from lamb.
Vai siaine (Tong. vai siaine) is a soup-like dish made from ripe bananas and coconuts.
A special place in the life of the islanders is occupied by the intoxicating drink kava, widespread in Polynesia, which is made from the roots of the lat plant. Piper methysticum. In addition to the ceremonial function and the role of a favorite drink, kava is used by the Tongans as a remedy for headaches, diarrhea, malarial hemoglobinuria, tuberculosis, leprosy, cancer, asthma, indigestion and insomnia. In Tongan mythology, there is even a legend that explains the origin of the drink. It tells how the supreme leader Loau decided to visit his subject Fewa'ang and his wife Fefafa, who lived on the island of Eueiki, during a famine in the country. However, at the dinner party, they had nothing to offer their honored guest, so they decided to kill their daughter named Cava'onau, who had leprosy, and cook something tasty out of her. When Loau found out about this, he refused food and ordered his subjects to bury it at the back of the house. Fewa'anga and Fefafa obeyed implicitly, burying the head of their murdered daughter in one place and the entrails in another. Five days later, two completely unfamiliar plants appeared at the burial sites: a kava plant (lat. Piper methysticum) grew from the head of the daughter, and sugar cane from the insides.

There is practically no information about the music and musical instruments of Tonga, which existed before the appearance of Europeans on the islands. One of the first European travelers to visit the archipelago, James Cook and William Mariner, made several notes in their diaries about the traditional music they heard while dancing. Among the folk instruments of Tonga there are idiophones (drums, slotted gongs, vargans), chordophones, aerophones (nasal flutes, shell pipes, ordinary shells, flutes).

Before the advent of Europeans, drums were absent in all of Western Polynesia (with the exception of Tokelau). On the islands of Tonga, they were supposedly brought relatively recently from Samoa along with the mauluulu dance (Tong. māʻuluʻulu) and have since undergone significant “modernization”: currently Tongan drums, or nafa (Tong. nafa), as the name of ancient forms slotted gong) are most commonly made from 44-gallon oil drums, which are then cut in half and covered with calfskin. Slotted gongs are widely used in Tonga, of which there are two main types: nafa (tong. nafa), which were mentioned by James Cook in his diary in 1784, and lali (tong. lali), brought from the Fiji Islands. According to Cook's descriptions, the nafa had a length of 0.9 to 1.2 m, a thickness half the thickness of a person, and a small gap of 8 cm that stretched along the entire length of the instrument. When playing the nafa, two hardwood sticks 30 cm long and wrist-thick were used, which were beaten in the middle and near the end of the slotted gong. Lalis were traditionally used not for musical purposes, but to convene chiefs in times of peace or encircle a village before attacking in times of war. A variety of lali, lali-faiva (tong. lali faiva), is used in the performance of the meke dance (tong. meke).


The local variety of the jew's harp is the utete (Tong. ʻutete), which is made from a leaf of a coconut tree 25 cm long and 3 cm wide. In the past, playing it was a common entertainment among children, but now this musical instrument is quite rare. Other idiophones include tafua (tong. tofua) - a twisted mat, inside of which there is a bamboo stalk and the sound of which is achieved by hitting with two sticks; used for musical accompaniment of fahaiula, ula and otuhaka dances.

Of the chordophones in Tonga, there are only guitars brought by Europeans, as well as ukuleles. All of them are used, as a rule, when performing love songs, or khiva-kakala. Of the aerophones, nasal flutes, or fangufangu (tong. fangufangu), are common, as are various sea shells, which are used as musical pipes. Mimiha flutes (Tong. mimiha) have become a rarity in the last century.

Modern Tongan music has evolved under the influence of various musical movements of European, Pacific and even Caribbean origin. The words of the songs are verses built on the principle of heliaki (Tong. heliaki): "to say one thing, but mean another." Of the songs, the most interesting are ceremonial dance songs, or faiva (tong. faiva). Khiva-kakala love songs (Tong. hiva kakala) are very popular.



The official ceremonial dance, widespread in the past and still present today, is the meʻetuʻupaki (Tong. meʻetuʻupaki), a dance performed by men. When performing this dance, special fans are used, which are called paki (tong. paki), as well as the Tongan slit drum, or nafa (tong. nafa), which is played with two special wooden beaters. Voice accompaniment is provided by a group of men and women who sit in front of the dancer along with the nafa performer. In the past, meetuupaki was performed only during important events of national importance, such as during the inasi (Tong. ʻinasi), the first fruit ceremony of the year, when the people of Tonga presented gifts to Tui-tong, one of the paramount chiefs of the archipelago. At present, this dance is performed in villages where the descendants of the Tui Tong live.

Unlike men's dances, women's dances on the islands of Tonga are less formal and can be performed around the clock (men's dances, as a rule, during the day). The most famous of these are the seated dance otuhaka (Tong. ʻotuhaka) and the standing dance ula (Tong. ula). The musical accompaniment and hand movements in these dances are very similar, and they themselves, as a rule, were performed one after the other. While the drum or guitar is most commonly used in dance today, in the past the otuhaka and ula were accompanied by the sound of the tafua, a musical instrument made from two bamboo branches wrapped in a mat. Two special sticks were used to produce sound. The tauʻolunga dance, which, presumably, was brought to the islands from Samoa, has recently enjoyed particular popularity. It has all the movements that are in the ula dance, but with more movement of the legs.

Another well-known Tongan dance, which was declared by UNESCO in 2003 as "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity", is the lakalaka (Tong. lakalaka). It is performed by both men and women from the same village (their number sometimes reaches 400 people), who line up in two rows: women on the left, men on the right. During the dance, which begins with poetry, the performers practically stand still, only making special movements with their hands, while men use one movement and women another (so it looks like two different dances are being performed).

Mauluulu (Tong. māʻuluʻulu) is a seated dance for both men and women that uses movements found in the otuhaka, ula, and lakalaka dances. Presumably, it was brought to the islands of Tonga from Samoa at the end of the 19th century. During its performance, the dancers sit cross-legged on the floor in several rows. The dance is accompanied by drumming, a special movement of the hands and clapping, and is performed only on important official occasions and reflects loyalty to the socio-political structure of society existing in Tonga.


Traditional Games

In addition to the games that are widespread throughout the world, which are also popular in Tonga (for example, rugby, cricket, football), there are many traditional entertainments in the country (mainly for children). The most famous of them are pani (tong. pani), hiko (tong. hiko) and lanita (tong. lanita).

Pani is a game between two teams that uses a tennis ball and 10-12 aluminum cans. One of the teams must build a small tower out of these cans. After she has done this, the other team must throw a tennis ball to knock down the tower. If at this moment a member of the other team touches the ball, then he is out of the game. If the team that rebuilt the first tower can rebuild it again, then they must count loudly to 10 and then shout "pani". With each shout of "pani", the team receives one point.

The game of hiko includes dancing and juggling. The player who can juggle any of the objects the longest (fruits, tennis balls, or empty bottles) wins.

Lanita is a team game that largely repeats cricket (albeit without a bat). In it, the batter must throw the ball high into the air, and then hit it with his hand. If the ball is caught, it is out of play. If not, the batter must run between the two bases before being hit by the ball thrown by the receiver. As soon as the batsman touches second base, his team scores a point.

The traditional clothes of the Tongans are sarong “tupenu”, woven pandan mats “taovala”, worn on official occasions, girded with coir rope “kafa”; women wore the kiekie skirt. In the 21st century, ordinary European clothes are also worn in Tonga.


Archaeological sites

Although the islands of Tonga have been studied rather poorly from the point of view of archeology, valuable archaeological sites have been preserved on a number of islands, including a large number of finds belonging to the Lapit culture and found on all the islands of the Kingdom (a total of about 30 archaeological sites, most of which are located on the Haapai Islands ). According to the research of Professor David Burley from the Canadian University. Simon Fraser University, the village of Nukuleka in the eastern part of Tongatapu is probably the oldest settlement of the Tongans or Polynesians, that is, it can be considered the "cradle of Polynesia." Of particular interest from the point of view of history and archeology is the city of Mua (Tong. Muʻa), located about 12 km from the modern capital of Tonga, the city of Nuku'alofa, and served from the 13th to the 19th century as the third capital of the Kingdom (the village of Toloa is considered the first, the second - Heket). In the northeastern part of Mua is the Lapaha district, the place of residence and the center of the supreme power of the Tui-Tong dynasty. In addition, it is known as the geographical center of the Tongan Empire in the period from the 13th to the 19th centuries, as well as the burial place of the supreme leaders (in total, there are supposedly 22 graves in Lapaha, or langi (tong. langi), which are small hills in the form strongly truncated pyramids).

Trilith of Haamong-a-Maui
In the northern part of the island of Tongatapu, near the village of Niutoua, there is the famous 12-ton Haamonga-a-Maui trilith (Tong. Haʻamonga ʻa Maui; translated from Tongan as “the burden of the god Maui”) - the only megalithic arch in the South Pacific Ocean, consisting of three coral slabs 5 m high, 2 m wide and 6 m long (there is an external resemblance to Stonehenge). The exact time of construction of the structure, as well as its purpose, is unknown, but it looks like a gate. Presumably, it was built at the beginning of the 13th century during the reign of the eleventh Tui-Tong, Tuitatui. There are also several points of view about the functions of Haamong-a-Maui. According to one of them, the structure was built by Tuitatui in order to reconcile his warring sons (the trilith was supposed to symbolize family ties between them), or it could serve as an entrance to the royal territory that existed in this place in the past.



Rugby is the national sport of Tonga, and the national rugby team ('Ikale Tahi' or the Sea Eagles) has been very successful internationally. Although it has achieved less results than the teams from Samoa and Fiji, the country has participated in the Rugby World Cup four times (the first time it took part in 1987). The national team's most successful performance was at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, when they defeated the United States 25–15 and Samoa 19–15 in their first two matches. However, in the two subsequent matches, the team lost to South Africa and England, taking 3rd place in their group. With this success, the Tonga national team automatically qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup held in New Zealand.

The Tonga Football Federation has been a member of FIFA and the Oceania Football Confederation since 1994. The first international match with the participation of the Tonga national football team took place on August 31, 1979, in which Tonga lost to the Tuvalu team with a score of 3: 5. Tonga suffered their biggest defeat to Australia on April 9, 2001, losing 0:22. Tonga won their biggest win over the Federated States of Micronesia on July 5, 2003 at the South Pacific Games in Fiji with a score of 7:0.

The country's National Olympic Committee was formed in 1963 and officially recognized by the IOC in 1984. For the first time, the Tongan national team took part in the 1984 Summer Olympics (held in Los Angeles). However, the first and so far the only medal (silver) was won only in 1996, in Atlanta, by the Tongan boxer Paea Wolfgramm. Due to climatic conditions, Tonga has never participated in the Winter Olympics, although it was planned that in 2010, a Tongan luger trained in Germany would take part in the Olympic Games in Vancouver (Canada). However, he failed to qualify. In 2014, the first “delegation” of one athlete went to the Olympics in Sochi: luger Bruno Banani. In his form, he took 32nd place, losing about 8 seconds to the leader.


Social sphere

In Tonga, there is a fairly developed healthcare system compared to other countries in Oceania. Although the position of traditional medicine is still strong in the country, the majority of Tongans do not refuse qualified medical care. Medical care at government health facilities is free, but residents often have to pay for most medicines. The private sector in the healthcare sector is practically undeveloped and is represented mainly by healers and government doctors practicing after work. Tonga has a health insurance system, but it only covers government employees.

In order to better manage the health system and provide quality services to the population, the Kingdom of Tonga is divided into four health districts. The country has one general hospital with 199 beds, located in Nuku'alofa, which treats patients with various types of diseases (except those requiring advanced surgery and other high-tech medical equipment). On the islands of Eua, Ha'apai and Vava'u, there are three district central hospitals with 16, 28 and 61 beds respectively. In addition, there are 14 primary health care centers and 34 maternal health centers throughout the country. In 2003, there were 32 general practitioners, 23 dentists, 342 nurses, 21 midwives registered in Tonga.

The main causes of morbidity in Tonga are acute respiratory infections, influenza, pneumonia, and diarrhea. In recent decades, non-contagious diseases such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases have become widespread in Tonga, the prevalence rate of which is much higher than in developed countries. This is caused by several factors, among which are: the processes of globalization, the growth of the well-being of the population, the automation of production, the increase in the diet of local residents of imported goods with a high content of fat and sugar, the decrease in the physical activity of the adult population, and the increase in the number of smokers. Of particular concern in recent years are sexually transmitted diseases.

Smoking is widespread: according to the 2006 census, approximately 21% of the population of Tonga aged 6 years and older (33% of the male population and 9% of the female population) smoke daily.



School education on the islands of Tonga appeared along with Protestant missionaries who preached the ideas of John Wesley and were the first to establish a Christian mission in the archipelago. Subsequently, representatives of other Christian teachings had a great influence on the education system. Already in 1876, universal primary education was introduced on the islands of Tonga. In 1882, the education system came under government control, but already in 1906, many religious missions were again allowed to open their own schools. In general, the education system in the Kingdom is of a high standard compared to other countries in Oceania, for example, the country has a high level of literacy: according to a 1999 estimate, 98.9% of the population could read and write in Tongan and / or English.

Education in Tonga is compulsory and free for children aged 6 to 14. The educational system of the country includes several stages: six years of primary education, seven years of secondary education and higher education (from six months to three years).

Primary education in the country is compulsory. Of the 116 primary schools registered in 1997, 105 schools were under government control, the rest were non-governmental (mostly church). In 2006, 16,941 people studied in them (of which 8,958 were boys and 7,983 were girls), and the number of teachers was 760.

In 1997, there were 41 secondary schools, or colleges, in Tonga. As of 2006, 14,311 people studied in them (of which 7,364 were boys and 6,947 were girls); the number of teachers is 999 people. At the same time, most of the children were educated in non-governmental schools.

After graduating from high school, further education can be obtained at 14 educational institutions (of which 8 are government), including the Institute for Vocational Education and Training, the Polytechnic Institute (Eng. Polytechnical Institute) , Teacher's College, School of Nursing. Queen Salote School of Nursing and Tonga Police Training School. In addition, the campus of the University of the South Pacific is located in Nuku'alofa.

Many states, primarily Australia, New Zealand and Japan, provide significant assistance to Tonga by financing various educational projects in the country.