Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Tonga
Flag of Tonga
Map of Tonga
Introduction Tonga
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.
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
water: 30 sq km
land: 718 sq km
Area - comparative:
four times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
419 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
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: 23.61%
permanent crops: 43.06%
other: 33.33% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
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 169 islands (36 inhabited)
People Tonga
106,137 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.5% (male 21,374; female 20,555)
15-64 years: 56.4% (male 29,519; female 30,322)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 1,945; female 2,422) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.85% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
24.08 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
5.63 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
13.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.56 years
female: 71.11 years (2002 est.)
male: 66.13 years
Total fertility rate:
3 children born/woman (2002 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 about 300
Christian (Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)
Tongan, English
definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 98.5%
male: 98.4%
female: 98.7% (1996 est.)
Government Tonga
Country name:
conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga
conventional short form: Tonga
former: Friendly Islands
Government type:
hereditary constitutional monarchy
Administrative divisions:
3 island groups; Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u
4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 June (1970)
4 November 1875, revised 1 January 1967
Legal system:
based on English law
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: King Taufa'ahau TUPOU IV (since 16 December 1965)
note: there is also a Privy Council that consists of the monarch, the Cabinet, and two governors
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed for life by the monarch
cabinet: Cabinet, appointed by the monarch, consists of 12 members
head of government: Prime Minister Prince Lavaka ata ULUKALALA (since NA February 2000) and Deputy Prime Minister Tevita TOPOU (since NA January 2001)
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 7 March 2002 (next to be held NA 2005)
election results: percent of vote - pro-democratic 70%; seats - pro-democratic 7, traditionalist 2
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the monarch); Court of Appeal (consists of the Privy Council with the addition of the chief justice of the Supreme Court)
Political parties and leaders:
there are no political parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement or THRDM [Akilisi POHIVA, president]
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Sonatane T. T. TUPOU
chancery: 250 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022
telephone: [1] (917) 369-1136
consulate(s) general: San Francisco
FAX: [1] (917) 369-1024
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 economy with a narrow export base in agricultural goods. 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. Tourism is the second largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. The country remains dependent on 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.
purchasing power parity - $225 million (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
5.3% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $2,200 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 10%
services: 60% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
9.4% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
33,908 (1996)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 65% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
13.3% (1996 est.)
revenues: $39.9 million
expenditures: $52.4 million, including capital expenditures of $1.9 million (FY99/00 est.)
tourism, fishing
Industrial production growth rate:
8.6% (FY98/99)
Electricity - production:
30 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
27.9 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper; fish
$9.3 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops
Exports - partners:
Japan 50.4%, US 31.6%, NZ 4.1%, Australia 2.1%, Fiji 1.7% (2000 est.)
$70 million c.i.f. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Imports - partners:
New Zealand 29.8%, Japan 18.6%, Australia 12.7%, US 12.7%, Fiji 12.2% (2000 est.)
Debt - external:
$57.5 million (June 2001)
Economic aid - recipient:
Australia $5.5 million, New Zealand $2.3 million (FY01/02)
pa'anga (TOP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
pa'anga per US dollar - 2.1920 (January 2002), 2.1236 (2001), 1.7585 (2000), 1.5991 (1999), 1.4920 (1998), 1.2635 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Tonga
Telephones - main lines in use:
8,000 (1996)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
302 (1996)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (1996)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 1 (2001)
61,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2001)
2,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
1,000 (2000)
Transportation Tonga
0 km
total: 680 km
paved: 184 km
unpaved: 496 km (1996)
Ports and harbors:
Neiafu, Nuku'alofa, Pangai
Merchant marine:
total: 80 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 292,139 GRT/421,221 DWT
ships by type: bulk 10, cargo 54, liquefied gas 4, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 4
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Albania 1, Australia 4, Austria 1, Bolivia 1, Cyprus 1, Djibouti 1, Egypt 2, Greece 4, Lebanon 2, Liberia 2, Marshall Islands 2, Morocco 1, Norway 1, Panama 1, Romania 3, Russia 1, Sao Tome and Principe 1, Saudi Arabia 2, Singapore 1, Sweden 1, Switzerland 3, Syria 5, Ukraine 1, United Arab Emirates 16, United States 4 (2002 est.)
6 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
Military Tonga
Military branches:
Tonga Defense Services (made up of three operational command components and two support elements, including the Royal Marines, Royal Guards, Maritime Force, a support/logistics group, and a training group), Police; note - a new air wing that will be subordinate to the Ministry of Defense is being developed
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Tonga
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003