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Facts About Tonga

Background: The archipelago of “The Friendly Islands” was united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. It became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900. Tonga acquired its independence in 1970 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.
Government type: hereditary constitutional monarchy
Capital: Nuku’alofa
Currency: 1 pa’anga (TOP) = 100 seniti

Geography of Tonga

Location: 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
total: 748 sq km
land: 718 sq km
water: 30 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 419 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)
Terrain: 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: 24%
permanent crops: 43%
permanent pastures: 6%
forests and woodland: 11%
other: 16% (1993 est.)
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, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: archipelago of 170 islands (36 inhabited)

People of Tonga

Population: 112,422 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.52% 
15-64 years: 54.43%
65 years and over: 4.05% 
Population growth rate: 1.91% 
Birth rate: 24.92 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 5.86 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 14.45 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.94 years
male: 65.54 years
female: 70.45 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.2 children born/woman 
noun: Tongan(s)
adjective: Tongan
Ethnic groups: Polynesian, Europeans about 300
Religions: Christian (Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)
Languages: Tongan, English
definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 98.5%
male: 98.4%
female: 98.7% (1996 est.)

Tonga Economy

Economy – overview: Tonga has a small, open economy with a narrow export base in agricultural goods, which contributes 30% to GDP. Squash, coconuts, bananas, and vanilla beans are the main crops, and agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The industrial sector accounts for only 10% of GDP. Tourism is the primary source of hard currency earnings. The country remains dependent on sizable external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. 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 reasonable basic infrastructure and well-developed social services.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $225 million (2000 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: -0.3% (1998 est.), 5% (2000 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $2,200 (2000 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 10%
services: 60% (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.2% (1998 est.)
Labor force: 36,665 (1994)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 65% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 11.8% (FY93/94)
revenues: $49 million
expenditures: $120 million, including capital expenditures of $75 million (FY96/97 est.)
Industries: tourism, fishing
Industrial production growth rate: 1.9% (FY95/96)
Electricity – production: 35 million kWh (1998)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1998)
Electricity – consumption: 33 million kWh (1998)
Agriculture – products: squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper; fish
Exports: $8 million (f.o.b., 1998)
Exports – commodities: squash, fish, vanilla beans
Exports – partners: Japan 53%, US 18%, NZ 6%, Australia 6% (1997 est.)
Imports: $69 million (f.o.b., 1998)
Imports – commodities: foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Imports – partners: NZ 30%, Australia 19%, US 11%, UK 11%, Japan 3% (1997 est.)
Debt – external: $62 million (1998)
Economic aid – recipient: $38.8 million (1995)
Currency: 1 pa’anga (TOP) = 100 seniti

Map of Tonga