29 Facts About Tonga


Tu?i Tonga became renowned for its economic, ethnic, and cultural influence over the Pacific, which remained strong even after the Samoan revolution of the 13th century and Europeans' discovery of the islands in 1616.

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In 2010, Tonga took a decisive step away from its traditional absolute monarchy and became a fully-functioning constitutional monarchy, after legislative reforms paved the way for its first partial representative elections.

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Tonga became known in the West as the "Friendly Islands" because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773.

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Tonga arrived at the time of the annual ?inasi festival, which centres on the donation of the First Fruits to the Tu?i Tonga, so he received an invitation to the festivities.

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Scholars still debate exactly when Tonga was first settled, but thorium dating confirms that settlers had arrived in the earliest known inhabited town, Nukuleka, by 888 BC, ± 8 years.

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Tonga held the chiefly title of Tu?i Kanokupolu, but had been baptised by Methodist missionaries with the name Siaosi in 1831.

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Under the protection of Britain, Tonga maintained its sovereignty, and remained the only Pacific nation to retain its monarchical government.

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Tonga became a member of the United Nations in September 1999.

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The eruption affected the kingdom heavily, cutting off most communications, and killing four people in Tonga, including a British national who ran an animal shelter and died trying to save her dogs.

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Tonga provides for its citizens a free and mandatory education for all, secondary education with only nominal fees, and foreign-funded scholarships for postsecondary education.

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Prodemocracy movement in Tonga promotes reforms, including better representation in the Parliament for the majority of commoners, and better accountability in matters of state.

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The Constitution of Tonga protects land ownership; land cannot be sold to foreigners.

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Tonga was succeeded by his brother Tupou VI, who was crowned on 4 July 2015.

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Tonga has contributed troops and police to the Bougainville conflict in Papua-New Guinea and to the Australian-led RAMSI force in the Solomon Islands.

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Tonga's economy is characterised by a large nonmonetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population who live abroad.

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Tonga was named the sixth-most corrupt country in the world by Forbes magazine in 2008.

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Tonga was ranked the 165th-safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.

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The export of squash to Japan, beginning in 1987, once brought relief to Tonga's struggling economy, but local farmers became increasingly wary of the Japanese market due to price fluctuations, and the huge financial risks involved.

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Energy consumption in Tonga is projected to reach around 66 gigawatt hours by 2020.

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Together with IRENA, Tonga has planned a renewable energy based strategy to power the main and outer islands.

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In 1928, Queen Salote Tupou III, who was a member of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, established the Free Wesleyan Church as the state religion of Tonga.

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Islam in Tonga is a small minority religion in the country.

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World Health Organization data published in 2014 indicate that Tonga stands fourth overall in terms of countries listed by mean body mass index data.

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In late October 2021, Tonga reported its first case of COVID-19 based on a New Zealand air passenger's positive test.

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Nevertheless, by picking up third place in their pool games behind South Africa and England, Tonga earned automatic qualification for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

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Tonga perform the Ikale Tahi war dance or Sipi Tau before all their matches.

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Tonga used to compete in the Pacific Tri-Nations against Samoa and Fiji, which has now been replaced by the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup, which now involves Japan, Canada, and the United States.

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Rugby union is governed by the Tonga Rugby Football Union, which was a member of the Pacific Islands Rugby Alliance and contributed to the Pacific Islanders rugby union team, before they were disbanded in 2009.

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Tonga made their first appearance at a Rugby League World Cup in the 1995 edition where they went out in the first stage but narrowly lost to New Zealand.

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