Country Information Database


Tonga Country Information

Flag of Tonga
Map of Tonga
Introduction Tonga
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 Tonga
Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates:
20 00 S, 175 00 W
Map references:
total: 748 sq km
land: 718 sq km
water: 30 sq km
Area - comparative:
four times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
419 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)
most islands have limestone base formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic base
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Kao Island 1,033 m
Natural resources:
fish, fertile soil
Land use:
arable land: 20%
permanent crops: 14.67%
other: 65.33% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Natural hazards:
cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo'ou
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
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
Geography - note:
archipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited)
People Tonga
119,009 (July 2008 est.)
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.)
Median age:
total: 21.8 years
male: 21.3 years
female: 22.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.669% (2008 est.)
Birth rate:
21.81 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate:
5.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
NA (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.)
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.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.44 years
male: 67.9 years
female: 73.1 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.5 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Tongan(s)
adjective: Tongan
Ethnic groups:
Polynesian, Europeans
Christian (Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)
Tongan, English
definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 98.9%
male: 98.8%
female: 99% (1999 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2004)
Education expenditures:
5% of GDP (2004)
Government Tonga
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga
conventional short form: Tonga
local long form: Pule'anga Tonga
local short form: Tonga
former: Friendly Islands
Government type:
constitutional monarchy
name: Nuku'alofa
geographic coordinates: 21 08 S, 175 12 W
time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
3 island groups; Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u
4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)
National holiday:
Emancipation Day, 4 June (1970)
4 November 1875; revised 1 January 1967
Legal system:
based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
21 years of age; universal
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
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
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)
Political parties and leaders:
Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement or THRDM [Uliti UATA]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tesina FUKO]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Human Rights and Democracy Movement Tonga or HRDMT [Rev. Simote VEA, chairman]; Public Servant's Association [Finau TUTONE]
International organization participation:
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
Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Tonga; the ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga
Flag description:
red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner
Economy Tonga
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. 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.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$526 million (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$219 million (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-3.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$5,100 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 17%
services: 57% (FY05/06 est.)
Labor force:
33,910 (2003)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 65%
industry and services: 35% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
13% (FY03/04 est.)
Population below poverty line:
24% (FY03/04)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.9% (2007 est.)
revenues: $80.48 million
expenditures: $109.8 million (FY07/08)
Agriculture - products:
squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper; fish
tourism, construction, fishing
Industrial production growth rate:
1% (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
54 million kWh (2006)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
47 million kWh (2006)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2005)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
880 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports:
842.3 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2007 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2007 est.)
Current account balance:
-$23 million (2007 est.)
$22 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports - commodities:
squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops
Exports - partners:
US 34.4%, Japan 20.3%, South Korea 10.4%, NZ 9.5%, Fiji 5.5%, Samoa 4.6% (2007)
$139 million f.o.b. (2006)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Imports - partners:
Fiji 32.3%, NZ 27.4%, US 9%, Australia 7.6%, China 5% (2007)
Economic aid - recipient:
$31.75 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$40.83 million (yearend, FY04/05)
Debt - external:
$80.7 million (2004)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Currency (code):
pa'anga (TOP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
pa'anga per US dollar - NA (2007), 2.0277 (2006), 1.96 (2005), 1.9716 (2004), 2.142 (2003)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Tonga
Telephones - main lines in use:
21,000 (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
46,500 (2007)
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)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 4, shortwave 1 (2001)
61,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (2004)
2,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
18,653 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
8,400 (2007)
Transportation Tonga
6 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2007)
total: 680 km
paved: 184 km
unpaved: 496 km (2000)
Merchant marine:
total: 12 ships (1000 GRT or over) 50,131 GRT/56,589 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 7, carrier 1, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 4 (Australia 1, Cyprus 1, Switzerland 1, UK 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Military Tonga
Military branches:
Tonga Defense Services (TDS): Land Force (Royal Guard), Naval Force (includes Royal Marines, Air Wing) (2008)
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.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 1,464
female: 1,412 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures:
0.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Tonga
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 2 October, 2008 Access Time: Sat, 02 Dec 2023 21:23:06 +0000