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  Introduction Back To Top

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.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
20 00 S, 175 00 W

Natural resources:
fish, fertile soil

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Kao Island 1,033 m

most islands have limestone base formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic base

Geography - note:
archipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited)

total: 748 sq km
land: 718 sq km
water: 30 sq km

Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

419 km

Area - comparative:
four times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
deforestation results as more and more land is being cleared for agriculture and settlement; some damage to coral reefs from starfish and indiscriminate coral and shell collectors; overhunting threatens native sea turtle populations

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Natural hazards:
cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo'ou

Land use:
arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 14.67%
other: 65.33% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2.5 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.44 years
male: 67.9 years
female: 73.1 years (2008 est.)

definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 98.9%
male: 98.8%
female: 99% (1999 est.)

Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Polynesian, Europeans

Median age:
total: 21.8 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 22.3 years (2008 est.)

119,009 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
5% of GDP (2004)

Population growth rate:
1.669% (2008 est.)

Tongan, English

Death rate:
5.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 11.88 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.07 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.63 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2004)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 33.7% (male 20,484/female 19,633)
15-64 years: 62% (male 36,699/female 37,108)
65 years and over: 4.3% (male 2,135/female 2,950) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
21.81 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Christian (Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)

noun: Tongan(s)
adjective: Tongan

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Tonga; the ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga

National holiday:
Emancipation Day, 4 June (1970)

21 years of age; universal

Government type:
constitutional monarchy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Human Rights and Democracy Movement Tonga or HRDMT [Rev. Simote VEA, chairman]; Public Servant's Association [Finau TUTONE]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Fekitamoeloa 'UTOIKAMANU
chancery: 250 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022
telephone: [1] (917) 369-1025
FAX: [1] (917) 369-1024
consulate(s) general: San Francisco

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea (32 seats - 14 reserved for cabinet ministers sitting ex officio, nine for nobles selected by the country's 33 nobles, and nine elected by popular vote; members serve three-year terms)
elections: last held on 23-24 April 2008 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: Peoples Representatives: percent of vote - independents 54%, THRDM 28%, PDP 14%; seats - THRDM 4, independents 3, PDP 2

Legal system:
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Flag description:
red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner

4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga
conventional short form: Tonga
local long form: Pule'anga Tonga
local short form: Tonga
former: Friendly Islands

Political parties and leaders:
Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement or THRDM [Uliti UATA]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tesina FUKO]

name: Nuku'alofa
geographic coordinates: 21 08 S, 175 12 W
time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

4 November 1875; revised 1 January 1967

Executive branch:
chief of state: King George TUPOU V (since 11 September 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Dr. Feleti SEVELE (since 11 February 2006); Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Viliami TANGI (since 16 May 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 14 members, 10 appointed by the monarch for life; four appointed from among the elected members of the Legislative Assembly, including two each from the nobles' and peoples' representatives serving three-year terms
note: there is also a Privy Council that consists of the monarch, the cabinet, and two governors
elections: the monarch is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed by the monarch

Administrative divisions:
3 island groups; Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the monarch); Court of Appeal (Chief Justice and high court justices from overseas chosen and approved by Privy Council)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
US 36.7%, Japan 21.6%, NZ 10.1%, Fiji 5.8%, Samoa 4.9% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
39.99 million kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$23 million (2007 est.)

Debt - external:
$80.7 million (2004)

Unemployment rate:
13% (FY03/04 est.)

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$4,400 (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$163.1 million (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$521.5 million (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$258 million (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
pa'anga (TOP) per US dollar - NA (2007), 2.0277 (2006), 1.96 (2005), 1.9716 (2004), 2.142 (2003)

GDP - real growth rate:
-3.5% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$46.38 million (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
33,910 (2003)

Imports - partners:
Fiji 32.5%, NZ 27.5%, US 9%, Australia 7.4%, China 5% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.9% (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 17%
services: 57% (FY05/06 est.)

Oil - imports:
1,035 bbl/day (2005)

$22 million f.o.b. (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
pa'anga (TOP)

Economy - overview:
Tonga has a small, open, South Pacific island economy. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops, and 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 Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. Tonga had 41,000 visitors in 2004. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well-developed social services. High unemployment among the young, a continuing upturn in inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals

tourism, construction, fishing

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007)

Population below poverty line:
24% (FY03/04)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12.16% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$106.8 million (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
43 million kWh (2007 est.)

$139 million f.o.b. (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2007 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 31.8%
industry: 30.6%
services: 2,003% (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2007 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$40.83 million (yearend, FY 04/05)

Oil - consumption:
870 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops

Economic aid - recipient:
$31.75 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $80.48 million
expenditures: $109.8 million (FY07/08 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
8,400 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
21,000 (2007)

2,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)

61,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
46,500 (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
3 (2004)

Telephone system:
general assessment: competition between Tonga Telecommunications Corporation (TCC) and Shoreline Communications Tonga (SCT) is accelerating expansion of telecommunications; SCT recently granted authority to develop high-speed digital service for telephone, Internet, and television
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 40 telephones per 100 persons; fully automatic switched network
international: country code - 676; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2004)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)

Internet hosts:
19,231 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 13
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 8, carrier 1, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 4 (Australia 1, Cyprus 1, Switzerland 1, UK 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2007)

total: 680 km
paved: 184 km
unpaved: 496 km (2000)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2007)

6 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.); no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 32,053
females age 16-49: 30,981 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 25,520
females age 16-49: 26,893 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Tonga Defense Services (TDS): Land Force (Royal Guard), Naval Force (includes Royal Marines, Air Wing) (2008)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 1,464
female: 1,412 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
0.9% of GDP (2006 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

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