Guide to the Kingdom of Tonga (Pacific Island of Tonga)
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Guide to the Kingdom of Tonga (Pacific Island of Tonga)

Facts about Tonga.The kingdom of Tonga is a group of 170 Pacific Islands. Tonga is the only is the only monarchy amongst the Pacific Islands.The capital of the Kingdom of Tonga is Nuku'alofa, situated on the island of Tongapatu.Tonga facts.

Situated just east of the world's 180th parralel ( the international date line ), Tonga is the first country in the world to greet each new day, and the first country in the world to herald every new year.

Situated in the area known as Oceania, the Kingdom of Tonga consists of around 170 islands, with only 36 of them  inhabited, and covers an area of 700,000 sq km.

The Kingdom of Tonga is the only monarchy amongst the pacific-ocean islands, having avoided colonisation throughout it's 3,000 year history.

Geographically the islands belong to two main groups, with some of them having a limestone base, and others having a volcanic rock base, that were made up from coral polyps rising out of the sea, which are still surrounded by rich coral reefs today.

The islands climate is cool sub - tropical with temperatures ranging between 27o to 32 o depending on the season.

Annual rainfall is around 2000 mm, with an annual daily humidity rate of 80 %.

                                                       DEMOGRAPHY.

The people of the Kingdom of Tonga are Polynesian by ethnicity and make up 98 % of the islands total 104,000 population.

They speak Tongan, a Polynesian language similar to that spoken on Samoa and Hawaii, although English is widely spoken and understood.

The Tongans main religion is Methodism, practised by 95 % of the islanders, who are very devout, treating the Sabbath day ( Sunday ) as sacrosanct.

Due to their religious values,there is no organised gambling or casinoes allowed on the islands.

Education is free and compulsary and the Tongan people have a literacy rate of 98 %.

Secondary education has a small fee attributed to it, and university education is taken mainly in New Zealand or Australia.

Obesity is a problem on the islands, with Tonga having the highest instance in the world, particularly amongst it's women.

The islands inhabitants follow a strict dress code,particularly on Sundays, which must also be adhered to by visitors, with certain areas of the body being taboo. Even swimming at the beach should be done wearing shorts and t- shirt as the most minimal of clothing.

The primary source of income is from money remmittance from family members who have moved away from the islands for work, with most of the island's emigres moving to New Zealand and Australia.

Main industries within the islands are fishing and agriculture, with it's main export crop being pumpkin squash, exported mainly to Japan and coconut and kava for it's home market.

Kava ( Piper Methysticum ) is a plant grown for use as a beverage, by using the plant's root.It has a sedatative quality and is consumed by the men only, for relaxation purposes, but without disrupting mental clarity.

                                      

                                              The Kingdom of Tonga's capital city, Nuku'alofa.

                                                                       INFRASTRUCTURE.

The largest island is Tongapatu, which covers an area of 257 sq km. It's capital Nuku'alofa, is situated here, along with most of the islands population.

The island is served by a road network of 680 km which is mostly paved and in good order.

There are three main ports on the island, one for cargo, one for ferries to neighbouring islands and the largest, Queen Salate Wharf, which is the main passenger port which can accommodate the largest luxury liners.

The island's largest airport is situated here, Fua'amotu International Airport, serviced by several international airline companies, including the Tonga Islands flag carrier Peau Vava'u Airlines.

Healthcare on the islands is good with 3 main health centres on Tongapatu catering to all medical needs of the community, which is run by well qualified Australian or New Zealand trained staff.

                                     

                                           NATURAL BLOWHOLES SITUATED OFF TONGAPATU.

                                                                             TOURISM.

The islands can be accessed by ship, with Tonga being on most tour companies ' round the world ' packages, and certainly on all ' pacific- Islands ' packages.

Independent travellers can fly direct from New Zealand ( 2 hours 40 minutes ) Australia ( 5 hours ) and Hawaii ( 8 hours ). Tonga's nearest neighbour is the island of Samoa some 889 km / 552 miles away.

All the islands are served by quality hotels and restaurants all of which can be accessed by reliable bus and taxi services.

Activities include scuba diving, whale watching, game fishing, island tours and boat trips.

There is local car and motorcycle hire on the islands, but one needs to apply for a local driving licence before arrival as international drivers licences are not accepted.

The island's 58 km shoreline consists of 44 km of tidal mangrove swamp, including the Sopu Flats, an inter-tidal reef flat which hosts an important waterbird colony.

The coast has several large sea bird colonies and turtle breeding grounds.

Inland the island's interior houses many lagoons made from volcanic craters,many of which are now nature reserves, these freshwater lakes are home to many bird colonies and plant species.

On the island of Vava'u is situated a National Park, which is dominated by Mount Talau ( 131 m ) and Lake Ano, ( 500 ha )

The park is home to the islands rare lizard the Fokai, the island's endemic bird, the Tongan Whistler and a unique bat known as the flying fox or Peka.

                            

                                          The Kingdom of Tonga's Royal Palace.

                                                                      INTERNAL AFFAIRS.

The country's government is a constitutional monarchy, headed by King George V, with a prime minister as head of governmental affairs.

The islands are served by their own T.V and radio stations, and one broadcasted channel from Australia.The country's press, which has four local newspapers, has limited freedom.

The smaller islands have a non monetary system within the local community, although the islands do have currency, the Pa'anga, used mainly on Tongapatu and other islands with a tourist industry.

The islands energy is gradually becoming self sufficient with the use of solar home systems.

Rugby union is the island's national sport.

Time zone. + 13.

Call code. + 676.

Internet TLD .to 

                                                                MAP OF TONGA

                      

                                                       © D.B.Bellamy.January.2010. 

                                  Other small island articles you may be interested in - 

                                      

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                  All Images and map sourced from Tonga articles courtesy of wikimedia commons.

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