Tonga - unique among Pacific nations - never completely lost its indigenous governance. The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900; it withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. Tonga remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.
Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Total: 747 sq. km land: 717 sq. km water: 30 sq. km
Tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)
Fish, arable land
Agricultural land: 43.1%arable land 22.2%; permanent crops 15.3%; permanent pasture 5.6%forest: 12.5% other: 44.4% (2011 est.)
Tonga has a small, open, island economy and is the last constitutional monarchy among the Pacific Island countries. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from overseas Tongans to offset its trade deficit. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. Tonga had 39,000 visitors in 2006. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, encouraging investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga's English-speaking and educated workforce offer a viable labor market, and the tropical climate provides fertile soil. Renewable energy and deep sea mining also offer opportunities for investment. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well developed social services. The government faces high unemployment among the young, moderate inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures.
Squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, sweet potatoes, cassava, taro and kava
Tourism, construction, fishing
Squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops
Foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Ministry of Information and Communication
Ministry of Commerce and labour
Tonga Chamber of commerce and Industry