Population: 103,036 (est.)
Language(s): English, Tongan
- The Tongan pa’anga is the official currency of Tonga.
- About 98% of the Tonga population are affiliated with a Christian church or sect.
- Tonga has a tropical climate with only two seasons, wet and dry, with most rain falling between February and April. The tropical cyclone season currently runs from November 1 – April 30.
- Tonga’s economy is characterised by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country’s population who live abroad (chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States).
- Tonga has only two seasons, summer and winter.
- Rugby union is the national sport in Tonga.
- It is against the law of the land to go around shirtless in Tonga.
- Around two-thirds of Tonga’s population dwells on the main island of Tongatapu.
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a sovereign state and an archipelago comprising 176 islands scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. Fifty-two of these islands are inhabited.
Lengthwise, the Kingdom stretches over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south line located about a third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaii.
Tonga also became known as the Friendly Islands because of the friendly reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit there in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ?inasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tu?i Tonga (the islands’ paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs had wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but could not agree on a plan.
Tonga is also the only island nation in the region to have avoided formal colonisation. In 2010, it took a decisive step towards becoming a fully functioning constitutional monarchy after legislative reforms paved the way for its first partial representative elections.