Tonga Facts

Tonga Facts and History


The Kingdom of Tonga consists of around 170 individual, sometimes extremely different islands and is located in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean. It belongs to Polynesia and, along with Samoa and Fiji, is one of the longest-populated regions in Central Polynesia. It was from here that the eastern Polynesian Islands such as the Cook Islands and the Marquesa Islands, which are now part of French Polynesia, were settled.

Tonga is the only kingdom in Polynesia that existed before the European discovery and still exists today. Fiji used to have a king, but royalty is now abolished. The main island of the kingdom was Tongatapu. Of the approximately 170 islands in Tonga, only 63 are inhabited. In 2007 riots broke out against the representative system of the king, as a result of which many buildings in the capital were destroyed.

The capital of Tonga is Nuku’alofa, located on the island of Tonga Tapu. Tonga is about 2,000 km northeast of Auckland/New Zealand. It is one of the few South Sea islands that has never been colonized. Kings have ruled the island for centuries.

James Cook named the islands in contrast to some other islands, such as B. Fiji, the friendly islands.

Tonga has not yet been fully discovered by tourism, although it offers very attractive diving spots. However, there are not many beaches that match the South Seas image that Europe loves.

Tonga is west of the international date line. This makes Tonga the first state to start a new day. The name Tonga means south. There are a number of active volcanoes in Tonga.

Due to the extremely unhealthy diet, around 80% of the population is overweight

Name of the country Kingdom of Tonga
Form of government Constitutional monarchy
Location In the southwestern Pacific, about 2,000 km northeast of Auckland/ New Zealand;from around 173 ° to 177 ° west longitude, from around 13 ° to 23 ° south latitude
National anthem Koe Fasi Oe Tui Oe Otu Tonga
Population approx. 110,000 (Credit: Countryaah: Tonga Population)
Ethnicities Polynesians and about 300 Europeans
Religions Christianity with the Free Wesleyan Church as the main group and about 15% Mormons
Languages English, Tongan
Capital Nuku’alofa on Tonga Tapu Isla
Surface Land area: 748 km², a total of 360,000 km²
Highest mountain Unnamed place on Kao Island, with a height of 1,033 m
Largest lake in area Crater lake on Tofua
International license plate TO
Currency Pa’anga = 100 Seniti
Time difference to CET +12 h
International phone code + 676
Mains voltage, frequency 240 volts, 50 hertz
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .to

Tonga: history

The island was settled around 3,000 years ago from the Fiji Islands or the Santa Cruz Islands. There is evidence of settlement by Lapita people in Taloa around 1,100 BC. Chr.

According to Abbreviationfinder website, the Lapita culture has received its name from an archaeological dig near Koné on the skin brush. The Lapita culture was characterized by pottery with special patterns.

Based on these pottery finds, migrations of ethnic groups in the Pacific region can be determined and dated. The Lapita culture spread from New Caledonia to the entire western Polynesian cultural area and disappeared around 300 AD. The Lapita people were Austronesians who had great seafaring skills and were therefore extremely mobile.

Tangaloa, the ancestor of the royal family, is said to have descended from heaven and fathered a son with the beautiful girl Va’epopua.

Tangaloa’s son later became the first king of Tonga, also known as Tu’i Tonga, in the middle of the 10th century AD. The family was kings for over 400 years. During this time, many of the monuments on Tongatapu were erected.

The kings were all powerful. They were the only non-tattooed men in the kingdom.

The Kingdom of Tonga expanded to the neighboring islands such as Fiji, Niue, Samoa and Tockelau and even to the far west of the Solomon Islands, which are in the Melanesian part of the South Pacific. The kingdom had its greatest expansion in the 13th century. The wild warriors of Tonga were greatly helped by their double-hulled canoes, called kali, which could hold up to 200 people.

Towards the end of the 15th century, the king lost his absolute power. The king had previously been both a secular and religious authority. These two areas have now been divided between two people. Tu’i Tonga was the religious ruler and Tu’i Ha’atakalaua the secular. Traditionally women had a very high position within the family. Female descendants therefore had a higher rank than male. In order not to endanger their brothers within the higher-ranking families, the problem was solved by marrying the women to Fiji or Samoa.

The Europeans are coming

The first European to visit Tonga was the Dutch Abel Janszoon Tasman (1603-1659). He reached Tonga on January 19, 1648. James Cook (1728-1779) came to Tonga several times, namely in 1773, 1771 and 1777. He also called the islands “friendly islands” because he was very hospitable.

However, some claim that the Tongans were about to eat James Cook during the festival held in his honor. However, since he offered King Tu’i Tonga a Galapagos tortoise as a gift, he escaped this fate. From then on, the turtle ran around in the royal garden and died in 1966 at the blessed age of around 200 years.

The Spaniard Antonia Mourelle (1754-1820) discovered Vava’u in 1781.

Tonga was so powerful that the region’s sandalwood trade, e.g. B. also that of Fiji, controlled.

The Europeans brought weapons to Tonga as barter goods. And here too, as on so many other South Sea islands, the warring tribes killed each other with it. With the new weapons, Tonga then conquered the Lau archipelago from Fiji.


In 1822 the Methodists came to the island. In 1831 they succeeded in proselytizing Taufa’hahau. He united Tonga into a kingdom in 1845 and became King George Tupou I. In

1875 the country was converted into a constitutional monarchy with a constitution.

A year later, Germany signed a friendship treaty with Tonga, in which Tonga was officially recognized.

King Tupou I died in 1893. Under him the country was unified, Christianity was introduced and the hereditary royal title was consolidated.

20th century until today

In 1900 Tonga became a British protectorate, sealed in the Treaty of Friendship with Great Britain. From 1918 to 1965, the popular Queen Salote Tupou III ruled. (1900-1965).

Her son, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV (1918-2006), inherited her after her death.

On June 4, 1970, the country gained independence from Great Britain and became a sovereign member of the Commonwealth. This enabled Tonga to accept aid from other nations.

In 1976 Tonga became the first state in the Pacific to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Australia, the USA and New Zealand responded to this rapprochement with massive financial aid.

Tonga is a monarchy that does not allow opposition. Most of the opposition and their newspapers are based in New Zealand. The king controls the media mercilessly, there is no freedom of the press.

Critics say Tonga unites the worst of two worlds:

the medieval absolute monarchy and Polynesian nepotism.

The result is rampant corruption. A lot of Tongans live abroad, it should be about 100,000, whereby Tonga itself has about 110,000 residents.

On August 1st, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV’s successor – only two years after his death – George Tupou V (born 1948) was crowned the new king. Around 5,000 international and national guests took part in the ceremony. The new king promised to surrender part of his power and leave the rulership of the country to the parliament and the government in the future. He kept his promise that elections were held in 2010. He passed away unexpectedly on March 19, 2012 in a Hong Kong hospital. Tupou VI, born in 1959, became his successor on March 18, 2012.

Kings or Queen of Tonga

Name of the king Reign Lifetime
King George Tupou I. 1845-1893 1797-1893
King George Tupou II 1893-1918 1874-1918
Queen Salote Tupou III. 1918-1965 1900-1965
King Taufaʻahau Tupou IV 1965-2006 1918-2006
King George Tupou V. 2006–2012 1948-2012
King Tupou VI. in office since 2012 born 1959

Tonga Facts