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.



Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand

Geographic coordinates

20 00 S, 175 00 W

Map references



total: 747 sq km
land: 717 sq km
water: 30 sq km

Area - comparative

four times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


419 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)


mostly flat islands with limestone bedrock formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic rock


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed elevation on Kao Island 1,033 m

Natural resources

fish, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 43.1%
arable land 22.2%; permanent crops 15.3%; permanent pasture 5.6%
forest: 12.5%
other: 44.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo'ou
volcanism: moderate volcanic activity; Fonualei (elev. 180 m) has shown frequent activity in recent years, while Niuafo'ou (elev. 260 m), which last erupted in 1985, has forced evacuations; other historically active volcanoes include Late and Tofua

Environment - current issues

deforestation results as more and more land is being cleared for agriculture and settlement; some damage to coral reefs from starfish and indiscriminate coral and shell collectors; overhunting threatens native sea turtle populations

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

archipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited)

People and Society

Population growth rate

-0.01% (2016 est.)


106,513 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Tongan(s)
adjective: Tongan

Ethnic groups

Tongan 96.6%, part-Tongan 1.7%, other 1.7%, unspecified 0.03% (2006 est.)


English and Tongan 87%, Tongan (official) 10.7%, English (official) 1.2%, other 1.1%, unspecified 0.03% (2006 est.)


Protestant 64.9% (includes Free Wesleyan Church 37.3%, Free Church of Tonga 11.4%, Church of Tonga 7.2%, Tokaikolo Christian Church 2.6%, Assembly of God 2.3%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.2%, Constitutional Church of Tonga 0.9%, Anglican 0.8% and Full Gospel Church 0.2%), Mormon 16.8%, Roman Catholic 15.6%, other 1.1%, none 0.03%, unspecified 1.7% (2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 34.47% (male 18,656/female 18,061)
15-24 years: 19.57% (male 10,671/female 10,169)
25-54 years: 33.92% (male 18,045/female 18,080)
55-64 years: 5.7% (male 3,000/female 3,072)
65 years and over: 6.35% (male 3,064/female 3,695) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 74.3%
youth dependency ratio: 64.1%
elderly dependency ratio: 10.2%
potential support ratio: 9.8% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 22.6 years
male: 22.2 years
female: 23.1 years (2016 est.)

Birth rate

22.6 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-17.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 23.7% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.71% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

NUKU'ALOFA 25,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

124 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.6 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.2 years
male: 74.7 years
female: 77.8 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.18 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

5.2% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

0.56 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

2.6 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.7% of population
rural: 99.6% of population
total: 99.6% of population
urban: 0.3% of population
rural: 0.4% of population
total: 0.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 97.6% of population
rural: 89% of population
total: 91% of population
urban: 2.4% of population
rural: 11% of population
total: 9% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

41.1% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

1.9% (2012)


definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English
total population: 99.4%
male: 99.3%
female: 99.4% (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-49 (2012 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga
conventional short form: Tonga
local long form: Pule'anga Tonga
local short form: Tonga
former: Friendly Islands
etymology: "tonga" means "south" in the Tongan language and refers to the country's geographic position in relation to central Polynesia

Government type

constitutional monarchy


name: Nuku'alofa
geographic coordinates: 21 08 S, 175 12 W
time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

5 island divisions; 'Eua, Ha'apai, Ongo Niua, Tongatapu, Vava'u


4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)

National holiday

King's Official Birthday, 4 July (1959); Constitution Day (National Day), 4 November (1875)


adopted 4 November 1875, revised 1988; amended many times, last in 2014 (2016)

Legal system

English common law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Tonga; if a child is born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen of Tonga
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


21 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King TUPOU VI (since 18 March 2012); note - on 18 March 2012, King George TUPOU V died and his brother, Crown Prince TUPOUTO'A Lavaka, assumed the throne as TUPOU VI
head of government: Prime Minister 'Akilisi POHIVA (since 30 December 2014)
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the monarch
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister indirectly elected by the Legislative Assembly and appointed by the monarch; election last held on 21 December 2010 (next to be held in November 2014)
election results: 'Akilisi POHIVA (Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands) elected prime minister by parliament on 29 December 2014; vote - 15 of 26 votes
note: a Privy Council advises the monarch

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea (26 seats; 17 people's representatives directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 9 indirectly elected by hereditary leaders; members serve 3-year terms)
elections: last held on 27 November 2014 (next to be held in 2017)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - Democratic Party 9, noble's representatives 9, independent 8

Political pressure groups and leaders

Human Rights and Democracy Movement Tonga or HRDMT [Rev. Simote VEA, chairman]
Public Servant's Association [Finau TUTONE]

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and a number of judges determined by the monarch); note - appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are brought before the King in Privy Council, the monarch's advisory organ that has both judicial and legislative powers
judge selection and term of office: judge appointments and tenures made by the King in Privy Council, judge appointments subject to consent of the Legislative Assembly
subordinate courts: Supreme Court; Magistrate's Courts; Land Courts

National symbol(s)

red cross on white field, arms equal length; national colors: red, white

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands [Samuela 'Akilisi POHIVA]
People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tesina FUKO]
Sustainable Nation-Building Party [Sione FONUA]
Tonga Democratic Labor Party
Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement or THRDM

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation from the US

the US does not have an embassy in Tonga; the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Mahe'uli'uli Sandhurst TUPOUNIUA (since 10 September 2013)
chancery: 250 E. 51st Street, New York, NY, 10022
telephone: [1] (917) 369-1025
FAX: [1] (917) 369-1024
consulate(s) general: San Francisco

Flag description

red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner; the cross reflects the deep-rooted Christianity in Tonga; red represents the blood of Christ and his sacrifice; white signifies purity

National anthem

name: "Ko e fasi `o e tu"i `o e `Otu Tonga" (Song of the King of the Tonga Islands)
lyrics/music: Uelingatoni Ngu TUPOUMALOHI/Karl Gustavus SCHMITT
note: in use since 1875; more commonly known as "Fasi Fakafonua" (National Song)


Industrial production growth rate

6% (2016 est.)

Economy - overview

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

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 healthcare

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.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$557 million (2016 est.)
$542.2 million (2015 est.)
$524.3 million (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$430 million (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.7% (2016 est.)
3.4% (2015 est.)
2.9% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$5,300 (2016 est.)
$5,200 (2015 est.)
$5,000 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 78.6%
government consumption: 21.4%
investment in fixed capital: 41.3%
investment in inventories: -0.1%
exports of goods and services: 19%
imports of goods and services: -60.2% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 19.2%
industry: 20.6%
services: 60.1% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, sweet potatoes, cassava, taro and kava


tourism, construction, fishing

Labor force

33,800 (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 27.5%
industry: 27.5%
services: 2,006% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate

1.1% (2011 est.)
1.1% (2006)

Population below poverty line

24% (FY03/04 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $132.7 million
expenditures: $132.7 million (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

30.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

45.1% of GDP (2013)
46.5% of GDP (2012)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.2% (2016 est.)
-1% (2015 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

8% (31 December 2016 est.)
8.09% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$115.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$101.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$218.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$203.9 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$148.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$128.4 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Current account balance

-$33 million (2016 est.)
-$34 million (2015 est.)


$35 million (2016 est.)
$30.6 million (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops

Exports - partners

Japan 16%, US 15.4%, Fiji 12.8%, NZ 12.5%, South Korea 11%, Samoa 10.7%, Australia 7.5%, American Samoa 6.8% (2015)


$288.2 million (2016 est.)
$263 million (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals

Imports - partners

Fiji 37.7%, NZ 21.2%, China 14.2%, US 6.4%, Australia 4.5% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$180.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$156.1 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$233.1 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$206.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$117.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$110.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

pa'anga (TOP) per US dollar -
2.26 (2016 est.)
2.106 (2015 est.)
2.106 (2014 est.)
1.847 (2013 est.)
1.72 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 5,325
electrification - total population: 96%
electrification - urban areas: 100%
electrification - rural areas: 83% (2012)

Electricity - production

50 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

46.5 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

17,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2010 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

1,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

1,457 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

200,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 13,220
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 70,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 66 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: competition between Tonga Telecommunications Corporation (TCC) and Digicel Tonga Limited is accelerating expansion of telecommunications; both parties provide high speed Internet, mobile telephone networks, and international telecom services; Digicel also
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity about 80 telephones per 100 persons; fully automatic switched network
international: country code - 676; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2015)

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station and 3 privately owned TV stations; satellite and cable TV services are available; 1 state-owned and 3 privately owned radio stations; Radio Australia broadcasts available via satellite (2015)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 48,000
percent of population: 45% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 75,416
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 0 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

A3 (2016)


6 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2013)


total: 680 km
paved: 184 km
unpaved: 496 km (2011)

Merchant marine

total: 7
by type: cargo 4, carrier 1, passenger/cargo 2
foreign-owned: 2 (Australia 1, UK 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Nuku'alofa, Neiafu, Pangai


Military branches

Tonga Defense Services (TDS): Land Force (Royal Guard), Maritime Force (includes Royal Marines, Air Wing) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

16 years of age for voluntary enlistment (with parental consent); no conscription; the king retains the right to call up "all those capable of bearing arms" in wartime (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international