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Travel and Explore Tonga

Discover  Tonga

 Beachcomber Pete



 One of the oldest and the only remaining Pacific Island under the rule of Polynesian monarchy is Tonga, officially known as the Kingdom of Tonga. Based on archaeological evidence, it is believed that settlers have been in Tonga since 500 BC. However, Dutch explorers discovered Tonga in 1616, and in 1773 and 1776 the islands were visited by Europe’s Captain Cooke who later named it the ‘Friendly Islands’ because of the inhabitants’ gentle temperament.

 Established as a monarchical kingdom, the kingship has been handed down from generation to generation since the 10th century. The monarchical reign reached its peak during the 13th century, with the rulers exercising their political powers as far away as the Samoan Islands. For many years Tonga experienced conflicts resulting from the different lines of kings trying to gain dominance. However, in 1845, the existing dynasty of Taufa’ahau Tupou was founded and later became a constitutional monarchy in 1875.

 Influenced by Britain, Tonga used the British model as the basis for their constitution and government. In 1900, they established a treaty of protection and friendship with the United Kingdom (UK), while at the same time maintaining their independence. The treaty was later changed and ratified in 1958 and 1959 respectively, providing for diplomatic relations with the UK. On June 4, 1970, Tonga became a fully independent nation, joining the Commonwealth of Nations and since September 11, 2006, King George Tupou V has been the head of state. The political hierarchy include the king, nobles and more recently people’s representatives. However, there has been political unrest and in November 2006, demonstrations led to riots which resulted in the imposition of a state of emergency, which was in effect up to December 2009.

 Located in the south Pacific, to the southwest of Samoa, Tonga has a land area of 734 sq. km. It is an archipelago which consists of 171 islands, most of which are raised coral formations along with some volcanic craters and 48 of the islands are uninhabited. There are three main groups of islands, namely Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u as well as the two Niuas Islands and ‘Eau.



 The climate in Tonga is subtropical which makes it less humid and cooler in June to November and the warm season is from December to May. Average temperatures range between 74 degrees fahrenheit to 80 degrees and the terrain is mostly limestone based.

 Most of the Tongan population of about 102,000 (2006 Census) live on the main island of Tongatapu and the capital is Nuku’alofa which is also the urban and commercial hub. While Tongatapu is noted for its Polynesian culture and tradition, Ha’apai and Vava’s are respectively known for their great white sand beaches and superb water sporting activities. With the protection from the reefs, Tongan waters are perfect for sailing, kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling. During the summer months of June and July, Tonga is noted for housing whales that migrate from Antarctica to warmer waters for their mating and feeding of their young ones.

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