- Area: 747 sq km
- Population: 106,479
- Infant mortality: 11.3 deaths/1,000 live births
- Life expectancy: 76.4 years
- Urbanisation: 23.1% of total population
- Literacy: 99.4
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; in 2010 it began implementing steps to conduct more representative elections. Tropical Cyclone Gita, the strongest-ever recorded storm to impact Tonga, hit the islands in February 2018 causing extensive damage.
Climate is tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December). Terrain is mostly flat islands with limestone bedrock formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic rock.
Tonga has a small, open island economy and is the last constitutional monarchy among the Pacific Island countries. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. Tonga had 53,800 visitors in 2015. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from overseas Tongans to offset its trade deficit. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, encouraging investment, and is committing increased funds for health care and education. Tonga's English-speaking and educated workforce offer a viable labor market, and the tropical climate provides fertile soil. Renewable energy and deep-sea mining also offer opportunities for investment. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well developed social services. The government faces high unemployment among the young, moderate inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures.
English and Tongan