Tonga 1997Tonga

 Tonga | | | | | |
| | | :  |


The Fives Hotels

Tonga - Introduction 1997
top of page

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.

Tonga - Geography 1997
top of page

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

Map referenceOceania

Total: 748 km²
Land: 718 km²
Water: 30 km²
Comparative: four times the size of Washington, DC

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

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

Natural resources: fish, fertile soil
Land use

Land use
Arable land: 24%
Permanent crops: 43%
Permanent pastures: 6%
Forests and woodland: 11%
Other: 16% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA km²

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

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

Note: archipelago of 170 islands (36 inhabited)

Tonga - People 1997
top of page

Population: 107,335 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 0.81% (1997 est.)

Noun: Tongan(s)
Adjective: Tongan

Ethnic groups: Polynesian, Europeans about 300

Languages: Tongan, English

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

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 0.81% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 26.95 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 6.14 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.27 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

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

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: NA male(s)/female
Under 15 years: NA male(s)/female
15-64 years: NA male(s)/female
65 years and over: NA male(s)/female
Total population: NA male(s)/female

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 39.2 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 69.3 years
Male: 67.29 years
Female: 71.7 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.7 children born/woman (1997 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write a simple message in Tongan or English
Total population: 100%
Male: 100%
Female: 100% (1976 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Tonga - Government 1997
top of page

Country name
Conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga
Conventional short form: Tonga
Former: Friendly Islands

Government type: hereditary constitutional monarchy

Capital: Nuku'alofa

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

Dependent areas

Independence: 4 June 1970 (emancipation from UK protectorate)

National holiday: Emancipation Day, 4 June (1970)

Constitution: 4 November 1875, revised 1 January 1967

Legal system: based on English law

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: King Taufa'ahau TUPOU IV (since 16 December 1965)
Head of government: Prime Minister Baron VAEA (since 22 August 1991) and Deputy Prime Minister S. Langi KAVALIKU (since 22 August 1991)
Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the king
Note: there is also a Privy Council that consists of the king and the Cabinet
Elections: none; the king is a constitutional monarch; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed for life by the king

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea (30 seats - 12 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 24-25 January 1996 (next to be held NA January 1999)
Election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - 7 proreform, 2 traditionalist

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the king; Privy Council with the addition of the chief justice of the Supreme Court sits as the Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: ACP, AsDB, C, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTrO (applicant)

Diplomatic representation
In the us: Tonga does not have an embassy in the US; Ambassador Sione KITE, resides in London
In the us consulates general: San Francisco
From the us: the US does not have an embassy in Tonga; the ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga

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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Tonga - Economy 1997
top of page

Economy overview: The economy's base is agriculture, which contributes 36% 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 13% of GDP. Tourism is the primary source of hard currency earnings, but the country also remains dependent on sizable external aid and remittances to offset its trade deficit. The economy continued to grow in 1993-95 largely because of a rise in squash exports, increased aid flows, and several large construction projects, but contracted in 1995-96. The government is now turning its attention to further development of the private sector and the reduction of the budget deficit. Current proposals include selling Tongan citizenship and passports to foreigners, leasing its seven equatorial satellite spots, and setting up a joint venture gas production facility with South Korea.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: -1.9% (FY95/96 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 36%
Industry: 13%
Services: 51% (1994)

Agriculture products: coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper

Industries: tourism, fishing

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Labor force
Total: 32,013 (1990 est.)
By occupation: agriculture 70% (1995 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: NA%

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $44 million
Expenditures: $86 million, including capital expenditures of $N/A (1995 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Total value: $15.25 million (f.o.b., 1995)
Commodities: squash, vanilla, fish, root crops, coconut oil
Partners: Japan 59%, US 14%, Australia 6%, NZ 6% (FY93/94)

Total value: $80.3 million (c.i.f., 1995)
Commodities: food products, live animals, machinery and transport equipment, manufactures, fuels, chemicals
Partners: NZ 38%, Australia 28%, US 10%, Fiji 7.5% (1995)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $48.4 million (FY93/94)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: pa'anga (T$) per US$1 - 1.2127 (December 1996), 1.2323 (1996), 1.2709 (1995), 1.3202 (1994), 1.3841 (1993), 1.3471 (1992)

Tonga - Energy 1997
top of page

Electricity access

Electricity production: 30 million kWh (1994)

Electricity consumption
Per capita: NA kWh

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Tonga - Communication 1997
top of page

Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system
Domestic: NA
International: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Tonga - Military 1997
top of page

Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $NA
Percent of gdp: NA%

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Tonga - Transportation 1997
top of page

National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 6 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 3
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 1
With paved runways under 914 m: 2 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 3
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 1
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 2 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 3
2438 to 3047 m: 1
Under 914 m: 2 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 3
15-24 to 2437 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 2 (1996 est.)



Railways: 0 km



Merchant marine
Total: 4 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 9,990 GRT/14,884 DWT
Ships by type: cargo 1, liquefied gas tanker 2, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1 (1996 est.)

Ports and terminals

Tonga - Transnational issues 1997
top of page

Disputes international: none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs

You found a piece of the puzzle

Please click here to complete it