Tonga

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TONGA

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT
TOPOGRAPHY
CLIMATE
FLORA AND FAUNA
ENVIRONMENT
POPULATION
MIGRATION
ETHNIC GROUPS
LANGUAGES
RELIGIONS
TRANSPORTATION
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL PARTIES
LOCAL GOVERNMENT
JUDICIAL SYSTEM
ARMED FORCES
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
ECONOMY
INCOME
LABOR
AGRICULTURE
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
FISHING
FORESTRY
MINING
ENERGY AND POWER
INDUSTRY
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOMESTIC TRADE
FOREIGN TRADE
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS
BANKING AND SECURITIES
INSURANCE
PUBLIC FINANCE
TAXATION
CUSTOMS AND DUTIES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HEALTH
HOUSING
EDUCATION
LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS
MEDIA
ORGANIZATIONS
TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION
FAMOUS TONGANS
DEPENDENCIES
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kingdom of Tonga

Pule'anga Tonga

CAPITAL: Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu

FLAG: The flag, adopted in 1862, is crimson with a cross of the same color mounted in a white square in the upper left corner.

ANTHEM: Koe Fasi Oe Tu'i Oe Otu Tonga (Tongan National Anthem) begins "'E 'Otua Mafimafi Ko homau 'Eiki Koe" ("O Almighty God above, Thou art our Lord and sure defense").

MONETARY UNIT: The Tongan pa'anga (t$) of 100 seniti is a paper currency at par with the Australian dollar. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 seniti, and 1 and 2 Tongan pa'angas, and notes of ½, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 pa'angas. t$1 = us$0.50720 (or us$1 = t$1.9716) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some imperial and local weights and measures also are employed.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; ANZAC Day, 25 April; Crown Prince's Birthday, 4 May; Independence Day, 4 June; King's Birthday, 4 July; Constitution Day, 4 November; Tupou I Day, 4 December; Christmas, 2526 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday and Easter Monday.

TIME: 1 am (the following day) = noon GMT.

LOCATION, SIZE, AND EXTENT

The Tonga archipelago, also known as the Friendly Islands, lies scattered east of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean. Nuku'alofa, the capital, is about 690 km (430 mi) from Suva, Fiji, and about 1,770 km (1,100 mi) from Auckland, New Zealand. Consisting of 171 islands of various sizes, only 45 of which are inhabited, Tonga has a total area of 748 sq km (289 sq mi), including inland waters as well as Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga (formerly the Minerva Reefs). Comparatively, the area occupied by Tonga is slightly more than four times the size of Washington, DC. It extends 631 km (392 mi) nnessw and 209 km (130 mi) esewnw. The major islands are Tongatapu and 'Eua, Ha'apai, Vava'u, Niuatoputapu and Tafahi, and Niuafo'ou. Tonga's total coastline is about 419 km (260 mi).

The capital city of Nuku'alofa is located on Tongatapu.

TOPOGRAPHY

The islands run roughly northsouth in two parallel chains; the western islands are volcanic and the eastern are coralline encircled by reefs. At 10,800 m (35,400 ft) deep, the Tonga Trench is one of the lowest parts of the ocean floor. The soil on the low-lying coral islands is porous, being a shallow layer of red volcanic ash, devoid of quartz, but containing broken-down limestone particles.

The volcanic islands range in height to a maximum of 1,033 m (3,389 ft) on Kao. Fonuafo'ou (formerly Falcon Island), about 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Nuku'alofa, is famous for its periodic submergences and reappearances, as a result of earthquakes and volcanic action. There are few lakes or streams. Tofua, Vava'u, Nomuka, and Niuafo'ou each have a lake, and there are creeks on 'Eua and one stream on Niuatoputapu. Other islands rely on wells and the storage of rainwater to maintain a water supply.

CLIMATE

The climate of Tonga is basically subtropical. Because the islands are in the southeast trade wind area, the climate is cooler from May to December, when the temperature seldom rises above 27°c (81°f). The mean annual temperature is 23°c (73°f), ranging from an average daily minimum of 10°c (50°f) in winter to an average maximum of 32°c (90°f) in summer. Average annual rainfall, most of which occurs from December to March during the hot season, is 160 cm (63 in) on Tongatapu, 257 cm (101 in) on Niuatoputapu, and 221 cm (87 in) on Vava'u. The mean relative humidity is 80%.

FLORA AND FAUNA

Some original forest growth can be found on islands in the Vava'u and Ha'apai groups. Tree species include coconut palms, and paper mulberry. Tropical bushes and flowers are abundant, including hibiscus and datura. A wide variety of fish are found in the coastal waters. Tonga is famous for its flying foxes.

ENVIRONMENT

Agricultural activities in Tonga are exhausting the fertility of the soil. The forest area is declining because of land clearing, and attempts at reforestation have had limited success. Water pollution is also a significant problem due to salinization, sewage, and toxic chemicals from farming activities. The impurity of the water supply contributes to the spread of disease. The nation is also vulnerable to cyclones, flooding, earthquakes, and drought. The government has established a Water Master Plan to manage the nation's water resources for two decades. The National Development Plan is a more comprehensive attempt to address the nation's environmental concerns.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included two types of mammals, three species of birds, two types of reptiles, four species of fish, two types of mollusks, and three species of plants. The Fiji banded iguana, and the loggerhead, green sea, and hawksbill turtles are endangered. The Tonga ground skink has become extinct. There has been some damage to the nation's coral reefs from starfish and from coral and shell collectors. Overhunting threatens the native sea turtle populations.

POPULATION

The population of Tonga in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 102,000, which placed it at number 178 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 39% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 104 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.8%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. Although the fertility rate was reported to be 3.9 births per woman, which was relatively high, ongoing emigration keeps the overall population growth rate lower. The projected population for the year 2025 was 137,000. The overall population density was 136 per sq km (352 per sq mi), but only 45 of the nation's 171 islands are inhabited.

The UN estimated that 33% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.90%. The capital city, Nuku'alofa, Tongatapu, had a population of 35,000 in that year. Two-thirds of the population live on the island of Tongatapu.

MIGRATION

There is considerable movement toward the larger towns as population pressure on agricultural land increases. Some ethnic non-Tongans born on the islands migrate mainly to Fiji and New Zealand. Emigration by Tongan workers, both skilled and unskilled, has long been of concern to the government. In 1989 approximately 39,400 Tongans lived in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. There are expatriate Tongan communities in Brisbane and Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), San Francisco (United States), and on Hawaii. Persons wishing to reside in Tonga must obtain a government permit; permission is granted only to those taking up approved employment. Immigrant settlement is not encouraged because of the land shortage. There were an estimated 2,000 migrants in Tonga in the year 2000. In that same year the total population of Tongans in the United States was 17,270. Emigration is a significant factor in the economy due to large in-flows of remittances. In 2002 worker remittances were $65 million. The net migration rate in 2005 was estimated as zero migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.

ETHNIC GROUPS

The Tongans are a racially homogeneous Polynesian people. Less than 2% of the population is of European, part-European, Chinese, or non-Tongan Pacific island origin.

LANGUAGES

Tongan, a Polynesian language not written down until the 19th century, is the language of the kingdom, but government publications are issued in both Tongan and English, and English is taught as a second language in the schools.

RELIGIONS

Over 98% of Tongans are Christian. According to the last official census in 1996, 41% of the population were members of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist), 16% were Roman Catholics, 14% were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 12% were of the Free Church of Tonga, and 17% belonged to other churches, including Seventh-Day Adventists, the Assembly of God, the Tokaikolo Church (a local offshoot of the Methodist Church), Anglicans, Baha'is, Muslims, and Hindus.

Though freedom of religion is provided for in the constitution and there is no state religion, the constitution does also stipulate that Sunday is the official Sabbath day. As such, the government restricts the operation of a large number of businesses on Sunday. The Tongan Broadcasting Commission also maintains a policy which restricts broadcasts of any religious tenets that are not within the mainstream Christian tradition.

TRANSPORTATION

In 2002, Tonga had 680 km (423 mi) of roadways, of which 184 km (114 mi) were paved. There are no bridges in Tonga, but three islands in the Vava'u group are connected by two causeways. Tonga has no railways.

Nuku'alofa and Neiafu are the ports of entry for overseas vessels. In 2005, the merchant fleet consisted of 29 ships of 1,000 GRT or more, some of them foreign owned and registered as a flag of convenience, totaling 136,977 GRT. Work on extending the port at Nuku'alofa began in 1985. The Pacific Forum Line and the Warner Pacific Line maintain scheduled service from Australia and New Zealand to Tonga via the Samoas and other islands, and cargo ships visit the group from time to time for shipments of copra. Internal sea connections are maintained by the Polynesia Triangle and by the Shipping Corp. of Polynesia.

In 2004, there were an estimated six airports, but only one of which (as of 2005), had a paved runway. Fua'Amotu International at Tongatapu is Tonga's principal airport. Air Pacific, Air New Zealand, Polynesian Airlines, and Hawaiian Air operate scheduled international flights from Fua'Amotu. The government-owned Friendly Island Airways has scheduled flights between Tongatapu, Ha'apai, 'Eua, Vava'u, and Niuatoputapu. In 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), about 56,800 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

HISTORY

Since the Tongan language was not written down until the 19th century, the early history of Tonga (which means "south") is based on oral tradition. Hereditary absolute kings (Tu'i Tonga) date back to Ahoeitu in the 10th century. Around the 14th century, the twenty-third king, Kau'ulufonua, while retaining his sacred powers, divested himself of much of his executive authority, transferring it to his brother Ma'ungamotu'a, whom he thereafter called the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua. About the middle of the 17th century, the seventh temporal king, Fotofili, transferred the executive power to his brother Ngala, called the Tu'i Kanokupolu, and thereafter the powers gradually passed into the hands of the latter and his descendants. According to tradition, in the mid-19th century, upon the death of the then Tu'i Tonga, those powers were conferred upon the 19th Tu'i Kanokupolu, Taufa'ahu Tupou, founder of the present dynasty.

European chronicles disclose that the island of Niuatoputapu was discovered by the Dutch navigators Jan Schouten and Jacob le Maire in 1616. In 1643, Abel Tasman discovered Tongatapu, and from then until 1767, when Samuel Wallis anchored at Niuatoputapu, there was no contact with the outside world. Capt. James Cook visited the Tongatapu and Ha'apai groups in 1773 and again in 1777, and called Lifuka in the Ha'apai group the "friendly island" because of the gentle nature of its peoplehence the archipelago received its nickname, the Friendly Islands. It was in the waters of the Ha'apai group that the famous mutiny on the British ship Bounty occurred in 1789. The first Wesleyan missionaries landed in Tonga in 1826.

The first half of the 19th century was a period of civil conflict in Tonga, as three lines of kings all sought dominance. They were finally checked during the reign of Taufa'ahu Tupou, who in 1831 took the name George. By conquest, George Tupou I (r.184593) gathered all power in his own hands and united the islands; he abolished the feudal system of land tenure and became a constitutional monarch in 1875. Meanwhile, by the middle of the century, most Tongans had become Christians, the great majority being Wesleyans, and the king himself was strongly influenced by the missionaries.

In the latter part of the century, there were religious and civil conflicts between the Wesleyan Mission Church and the newly established Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. After the dismissal of the prime minister, the Rev. Shirley Waldemar Baker, in 1890, the new government allowed full freedom of worship. Ten years later, during the reign (18931918) of George II, a treaty of friendship was concluded between the United Kingdom and Tonga, and a protectorate was proclaimed. During World War II, Tongan soldiers under Allied command fought the Japanese in the Solomon Islands, and New Zealand and US forces were stationed on Tongatapu, which served as an important shipping point.

Two more treaties of friendship between the United Kingdom and Tonga were signed in 1958 and 1968, according to which Tonga remained under British protection, but with full freedom in internal affairs. On 4 June 1970, Tonga ceased being a British protectorate and became an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with King Taufa'ahau Tupou IVwho had succeeded to the throne upon the death of his mother, Queen Salote Tupou (r.191865)as head of state. The new status brought few immediate changes, apart from the fact that it added Tongan control of foreign affairs to self-rule in domestic matters.

In 1972, Tonga claimed the uninhabited Minerva Reefs (now Teleki Tokelau and Teleki Tonga), situated about 480 km (300 mi) southwest of Nuku'alofa, in order to prevent an Anglo-American corporation from founding an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs in order to gain certain tax advantages.

Many of the government's strongest critics gained seats in the 1987 legislative elections; the unprecedented turnover was thought to reflect changing attitudes toward traditional authority. However, the traditional leaders continued in charge of the government, with Prince Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake elected as prime minister. The island's dissident pro-democracy movement, led by Akilisi Pohive, won the February 1990 general election, but it remained a minority within the legislature. A government scandal over selling Tongan passports to Hong Kong Chinese led to popular support for the opposition. Baron Vaea replaced Prince Fatafehi Tu'ipelehake as prime minister in August 1991. King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV organized the Christian Democratic Party in time for the 1993 election to provide greater coordination for his supporters and to weaken the democracy movement. However, pressure from the pro-democracy forces continued in the February 1993 general election when the People's Democratic Movement won six of the nine open seats.

Parliamentary elections were held in March 1999, when about 51% of eligible voters cast ballots, the lowest voter turnout in the country's history. Five of the nine members elected were from the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HRDM). King Taufa'ahu Tupou IV appointed his youngest son, 41-year-old Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala prime minister in January 2000. When the previous prime minister retired, observers speculated that the king's oldest son, Crown Prince Tupouto'a, would be named prime minister. It is likely that Tupouto'a was passed over for the post because of his stated opposition to preserving the king's right to make lifetime appointments. His younger brother, who became the country's fourth prime minister since 1950, has been outspoken in his criticism of the country's democracy movement.

Fifty-two candidates ran for the nine people's representative seats in the legislature in March 2002; the HRDM won seven of the seats. In the 2005 elections, the HRDM took 70% of the vote and 7 of 9 open seats. Although the movement's improvement in electoral standing may signal popular support for democratic reform, it is seen as the king's prerogative to initiate change.

Tonga experienced a financial scandal in 2001, when the king's official court jester, Jesse Bogdonoff, an American businessman, invested $26 million in a government trust fund that subsequently disappeared. The money had been raised by the sale of Tongan citizenship and special passports to Asians, especially Hong Kong Chinese concerned with the transfer of Hong Kong to China. The $26 million represented more than half the government's annual budget. The Tongan government's lawsuit against Bogdonoff was settled in 2004.

On 22 July 2005, public workers declared Tonga's first national strike. The 47 day strike ended in early September, when the chairman of the Public Servants Association presented the king with a petition calling him to dismiss Prime Minister Prince Ulukalala Lavaka Ata and all 14 cabinet ministers. The petition also demanded a commission be established to review the constitution within one year, and called for a more democratic form of government, as well as the return of royal family-controlled government assets, including the internet domain address and the power company.

In October 2005 parliament voted to establish the National Committee of the Kingdom of Tonga for Political Reforms, with the goal of examining and improving Tonga's form of government. Committee members were to be drawn from the executive and legislative (both noble and commoner) branches of the government, as well as from the nongovernmental population.

On 15 December 2005, after 10 years of membership talks, Tonga became the 150th member of the World Trade Organization. As part of its accession agreement, Tonga agreed to cut its import tariffs and to open many of its vital services to foreign companies.

GOVERNMENT

Tonga is an independent kingdom. According to the constitution of 1875, as amended, the government is divided into three main branches: the sovereign, Privy Council, and cabinet; the Fale Alea (Legislative Assembly); and the judiciary. The King-in-Council is the chief executive body, and the cabinet, presided over by the appointed prime minister, makes executive decisions of lesser importance. The prime minister is appointed for a life term. Law-making power is vested in the 30-member Legislative Assembly, which consists of 12 members of the cabinet sitting ex officio, 9 nobles elected to three-year terms by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga, and 9 representatives popularly elected to three-year terms. Sessions must be held at least once in every calendar year. Legislation passed by the Privy Council is subject to approval at the next meeting of the Legislative Assembly. Women voted for the first time in 1960, and the first woman was elected to the legislature in 1975. All literate citizens 21 years of age or older are eligible to vote.

In November 2003, the king approved amendments to Clause 7 of the constitution, which limited the press, thus effectively reducing freedom of speech. In October 2004, Chief Justice Webster found these amendments to be inconsistent with Clause 7, and therefore unconstitutional.

The next elections were to be held in 2008.

POLITICAL PARTIES

The Tonga People's Party (TPP), led by Viliami Fukofuka, and the pro-democracy Human Rights and Democracy Movements (HRDM), led by 'Akilisi Pohiva were the principal political parties active in 2003.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

The islands are divided administratively into three districts: Vava'u in the north, Ha'apai in the center, and Tongatapu in the south. Ha'apai, Vava'u, and the outlying islands are administered by governors who are members of the Privy Council and are responsible to the prime minister. Minor officials perform statutory duties in the villages. Town and district officials have been popularly elected since 1965. They represent the central government in the villages; the district official has authority only over a group of villages.

Titles of nobility were first bestowed in 1875, and later in 1882, 1887, 1903, and 1923. With the hereditary titles were granted villages and lands.

JUDICIAL SYSTEM

The Supreme Court exercises jurisdiction in major civil and criminal cases. Other cases, heard in the Magistrate's Court or the Land Court, may be appealed to the Supreme Court and then to the Court of Appeal, the appellate court of last resort. The Privy Council has jurisdiction over cases on appeal from the Land Court dealing with titles of nobility and estate boundaries. With the ratification of the 1968 friendship treaty, UK extraterritorial jurisdiction lapsed, and British and other foreign nations became fully subject to the jurisdiction of the Tongan courts. The judiciary is independent of the king and the executive branch, although Supreme Court justices are appointed by the king. Criminal defendants are afforded the right to counsel and the right to a fair public trial is protected by law and honored in practice. The king may commute a death sentence. In addition, the court system consists of a court martial for the Tonga Defense Services, a court tribunal for the police force, and a court of review for the Inland Revenue Department.

ARMED FORCES

The Tonga Defense Force was organized during World War II, became defunct in 1946 and was reactivated in 1952. It consists of a regular cadre and volunteers serving an initial training period, followed by attendance at annual training camps. Forces are organized into marines, royal guards, a navy, a police force, and a newly created air wing. The naval squadron consists of several fast patrol boats policing territorial waters.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

Tonga was admitted to the United Nations on 14 September 1999. It participates in ESCAP and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, UNCTAD, UNESCO, the World Bank, and WHO. Tonga is also a member of the Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth of Nations, the ACP Group, G-77, the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (Sparteca), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and Pacific Island Forum (formally called the South Pacific Forum). It has observe status in the WTO.

In environmental cooperation, Tonga is part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the London Convention, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.

ECONOMY

The economy is largely agricultural and still contains a substantial nonmonetary sector. The principal cash crops are squash, fish, copra and coconut products, vanilla bean extract and bananas. Agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. One third to one half of export earnings come from the sale of squash to Japan, though the main source of foreign exchange is remittances, followed by tourism. A proportion of food is imported and the economy remains dependent on external aid and remittances from expatriate Tongalese to offset its chronic trade deficit. It is estimated that there are more expatriates (over 100,000) than current citizens. Real GDP growth, which had peaked at 6.5% in fiscal year 1999/2000, fell to 0.5% in 2000/01, attributable to the global economic slowdown, and, in particular, its impact on tourism. The GDP growth rate in 2002 stood at 1.5% and at 1.9% in 2003.

In 2002, the year was ushered in by Tonga's worst cyclone since 1961, Cyclone Waka, which tore through the northern islands of Niuafo'ou and Vava'u on 3031 December 2001, destroying an estimated 90% of the crops. About 350 homes were destroyed, with another 750 homes, 23 schools, and numerous hospitals, churches, and other structures seriously damaged. Water supply, electricity, and communications were also severely disrupted, with total damage estimated at $50 million. Donor countriesprincipally New Zealand, Australia, French Polynesia, and the United Statesresponded with food aid and emergency assistance, as did several missions and charities. The government lifted import duties on construction materials. The net result was a slight uptick in real GDP growth in 2001/2001 to 1.5% despite the cyclone damage due to the stimulus given the construction industry as well as record high prices for squash and vanilla beans.

Another economic shock in 2002 was the discovery of the loss of most of the assets (about $26.5 million) from the Tonga Trust Fund (TTF) through failed investments and, perhaps, simple fraud, while under management by American businessmen. The assets came primarily from selling Tongan passports to nervous residents of Hong Kong before its reversion to Chinese rule in 1997.

INCOME

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Tonga's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $244.0 million. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $2,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.5%. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 10.3%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 23% of GDP, industry 13%, and services 64%.

According to the World Bank, in 2002 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $62 million or about $611 per capita and accounted for approximately 42.7% of GDP.

LABOR

Tonga's labor force in 1996, the last year reported, was 33,910. As of 1997 (the latest year for which data was available), approximately 65% of the workforce was engaged in agriculture. The unemployment rate in 1996 (the latest year for which data was available) was estimated at 13.3%.

The government has issued a labor code establishing a wage structure, a system of job classification, and provisions for workers' compensation. Holidays are prescribed by law. According to the constitution, it is not lawful to work, to play games, or to engage in trade on Sunday. Workers have the right, in theory, to form unions under the 1964 Trade Union Act, but as of 2002, none had been formed. Various government agencies and public enterprises offer vocational training.

Child labor is not used in the wage sector and is virtually nonexistent throughout the economy. The workweek is limited to 40 hours. There is no set minimum wage. Generally, labors laws are well enforced on the main island of Tongatapu but are more inconsistently enforced on the outer islands.

AGRICULTURE

About 36% of Tonga is agricultural land, including small amounts of permanent pasture. With increasing population pressure on the land, more land is being intensively cultivated and less is available for fallow. The use of fertilizers, high-protein strains of corn, and similar methods to improve the efficiency of land use has become increasingly necessary.

According to the constitution of 1875, all the land in the kingdom belongs to the crown and cannot be alienated. Much of it, however, consists of hereditary estates that were bestowed upon various chiefs, who lease the lands to farmers at a nominal annual rent. Since 1890, the crown has been responsible for the collection of rents and the granting of allotments.

On reaching the age of 16, every Tongan male taxpayer is entitled under the constitution to a tax allotment of one api (3.34 hectares/8.25 acres). These allotments are hereditary, pass from generation to generation in accordance with the law of succession, and may not be sold. A tenant may be ejected for nonpayment of rent or for failing to comply with the planting regulations, under which every Tongan holder of a tax allotment is legally required to plant 200 coconut trees, which he must keep free from weeds. In recent years, however, population increases have made it impossible to guarantee the api to all those entitled to one.

Principal subsistence crops are yams, taro, sweet potatoes, and manioc. Estimated production in 2004 included coconuts, 58,000 tons; sweet potatoes, 6,000 tons; cassava, 9,000 tons; oranges, 1,000 tons; and bananas, 700 tons. Vanilla beans have become an important cash crop (130 tons in 2004), especially on Vava'u. Agricultural products accounted for 45% of exports in 2004.

ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Beef cattle are generally kept for grazing in coconut plantations to keep the undergrowth in check and to provide additional income. Every householder has several hogs, which generally are not sold but are used for feasts. Sheep were brought into Tonga in 1954 but did not thrive, and in 1956 the entire flock was slaughtered. Livestock in 2005 included 81,000 hogs, 12,500 goats, 11,400 horses, and 11,250 head of cattle.

FISHING

Fish are abundant in the coastal waters, but the fishing industry is relatively undeveloped, and the supply of fish is insufficient to meet local demand; thus, canned fish has been imported in recent years. Principal species caught are tuna and marlin. The fish catch was 4,458 tons in 2003; exports of fish products were valued at almost $3.56 million that year.

FORESTRY

Forestland covers about 5.5% of Tonga's total area, mainly on 'Eua and Vava'u, but this diminishing resource has not been efficiently exploited, and much wood for construction must be imported. Roundwood production in 2004 was 2,100 cu m (74,000 cu ft). There is a government sawmill on 'Eua. Charcoal is manufactured from logs and coconut shells.

MINING

Tonga had few known mineral resources. A limited amount of crushed stone is produced at local quarries.

ENERGY AND POWER

Tonga has no proven reserves of oil, natural gas, coal or oil refining capacity.

Tonga is entirely dependent upon imports of oil, natural gas or coal to meet its hydrocarbon needs. In 2002, the country's imports and consumption of refined petroleum products each averaged 780 barrels per day. There were no recorded imports or consumption of natural gas or coal in 2002.

Tonga's primary energy source is electricity, all of it powered by fossil fuels. In 2002, the country's electric generating capacity totaled 0.008 million kW. Electric power output in that year totaled 0.034 billion kWh. Demand for electric power in 2002 was 0.032 billion kWh.

INDUSTRY

Encouragement of new industries was the goal of Tonga's eight five-year plans (19662008). Industries include the manufacture of concrete blocks, metal products, woolen knitwear, leather goods, furniture, soft drinks, soap, sports equipment, yachts, and paint. Ten-meter (33-foot) epoxy-veneer molded yachts are produced by Marine Tonga, a Tongan-German joint venture. At the government-backed Small Industry Center in Nuku'alofa, more advanced products are made, including refrigerators, jewelry, bicycles, toys, furniture, wheelbarrows, and mini-excavators; other consumer goods are assembled for use locally and in neighboring countries. A small but growing construction sector developed in response to the inflow of relief monies following Cyclone Waka, which hit during the last two days of 2001, and the need for construction services for hospitals, schools, wharves, etc. Long-established industries are coconut processing, sawmilling, and local handicrafts. Nuku'alofa is the only commercial and urban center. Industry accounts for just 13% of GDP.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Hango Agricultural College, part of the Free Wesleyan Church Education System, offers diploma and certificate courses. Tonga Maritime Polytechnical Institute is located in Nuku'alofa.

DOMESTIC TRADE

Village stores carry a stock of flour, sugar, canned meats, textiles, hardware, soap, kerosene, tobacco, and matches; in the larger towns, these shops are managed by Tongans for European trading firms. Storekeepers act as agents for the Commodities Board and often extend credit to their customers until the end of the harvest. The board's produce division helps market bananas, melons, and pineapples. The development of cooperatives, which serve as savings-and-loan, produce-marketing, and handicraft-manufacturing organizations, has been actively pursued.

Government business hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. Private business hours are 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 8.9 69.4 -60.5
Japan 3.9 3.7 0.2
United States 2.3 7.2 -4.9
New Zealand 1.2 25.5 -24.3
Samoa 0.7 0.3 0.4
Australia 0.3 17.5 -17.2
Fiji 0.1 10.3 -10.2
Germany 0.1 0.1
Other Asia nes 0.1 0.4 -0.3
() data not available or not significant.

All shops are closed on Sunday. Banks are open from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8:30 to 11:30 am on Saturdays.

FOREIGN TRADE

Tonga suffers from chronic trade deficits. Vegetables, including squash, are Tonga's main export commodities. Other exports include fish, spices and vanilla, and shellfish. In 2004, Tonga's primary export partners were: Japan (37.1%), China (18.7%), the United States (17.7%), Taiwan (8.7%), and New Zealand (7.4%). Primary import partners in 2004 were: New Zealand (37.1%), Fiji (24.3%), Australia (9.1%), China (8.9%), and the United States (6.3%).

BALANCE OF PAYMENTS

Since 1960, Tonga has had a growing trade deficit, offset by funds from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In 2004, Tonga had exports valued at an estimated $34 million, and imports valued at an estimated $122 million. Tonga carried an external debt burden of $63.4 million in 2001. In fiscal year 2001/02, Tonga received $5.5 million in economic aid from Australia, and $2.3 million from New Zealand.

BANKING AND SECURITIES

The Bank of Tonga was formed in 1971, with the government holding 40% of the shares and 20% each held by the Bank of Hawaii, the Bank of New Zealand, and the Bank of New South Wales. The overseas banks provided staff and supervision for the Bank of Tonga, which offers all commercial services and has assumed responsibility for government savings, traders' current accounts, and foreign exchange dealings. The Tongan Development Bank (TDB) was founded in 1977.

Tonga's fiscal policy has traditionally been cautious, with taxation and expenditure measures balancing in the recurrent budget and the development budged being financed mainly through

Current Account -3,319.0
     Balance on goods -55,247.0
         Imports -73,373.0
         Exports 18,126.0
     Balance on services -9,309.0
     Balance on income 2,820.0
     Current transfers 58,416.0
Capital Account 13,412.0
Financial Account -3,174.0
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Tonga
     Portfolio investment assets
     Portfolio investment liabilities
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets
     Other investment liabilities -3,174.0
Net Errors and Omissions -47.0
Reserves and Related Items -6,872.0
() data not available or not significant.

grants and soft loans. Legislation to set up a central bank was passed in late 1988 and the National Reserve Bank came into existence the following year. The Ministry of Finance, the Board of Currency Commissioners, the Board of Coinage Commissioners, and the island's only commercial bank, the Bank of Tonga, had until then jointly performed central bank functions. A second commercial bank, MBF Bank, was launched in late 1993.

Legislation has been passed to enable Tonga to become an international banking center. The legislation permits up to four foreign banks to establish operations in the capital. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $20.6 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $67.0 million.

Tonga has no stock issues or securities trading.

INSURANCE

Blue Shield (Oceania) Insurance covers life, health, travel, workers' compensation, total permanent disability, accident, and local consultation services. There were at least seven other major insurers doing business in Tonga in 1999.

PUBLIC FINANCE

About half of all public revenues accrued from customs duties on imported goods; the remainder came mainly from export duties, port fees, income taxes, and stamp revenues. Principal items of expenditure were public health, medical services, education, and agriculture.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in FY99/00 Tonga's central government took in revenues of approximately $39.9 million and had expenditures of $52.4 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$12.5 million. Total external debt was $63.4 million.

TAXATION

Income tax is levied at progressive rates. Resident businesses pay 15% on profits up to $100,000, and 30% thereafter. Nonresident businesses pay 37.5% on profits up to $50,000 and 42.5% thereafter. All male Tongans 16 years of age and older, except the aged and infirm, pay an annual head tax, the receipts of which are used to finance free education and medical benefits. There is also a 5% sales tax.

CUSTOMS AND DUTIES

Tonga has a single-column tariff based on the Customs Cooperation Council Nomenclature with custom duties ranging from 3065% of the CIF (cost, insurance, and freight). A 20% port and services tax is involved in the percentages. Tariffs are applied to most private sector imports, primarily for revenue purposes. Higher tariffs apply to cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and petroleum, while public sector goods are exempt.

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Although some non-Tongans have leased large plantations and residential and business sites, there is little private foreign investment. In 1997, foreign direct investment (FDI) was reported as $3 million, and then for the next four years, 1998 to 2001, $2 million a year. In 2003, FDI amounted to 1.65% of GDP. Government policy is that foreign investment is welcome. The statutory framework was laid out in the Industrial Development Incentives Act (IDI Act) of 1978 that provides for a tax holiday of five years extendable to 15 years, with additional tax holidays for expansions of an enterprise. Raw materials and semi-processed goods imported to manufacture an exported finished product are exempt from customs duties for two years, and all imports of capital goods, machineries and construction materials are assessed at 50% of port and service taxes. With a view to husbanding the country's foreign currency resources, there are restrictions, mostly on a pro rata basis, on the ability to move hard currency out of the country. Under current IMF-guided efforts at fiscal reform, this regime has been criticized for overbroad tax exemptions and is scheduled to be replaced with a new investment incentives law. Aside from the obvious problems of remoteness and lack of development, the main impediment to foreign investment is not the legal framework but its administration, which is due to lack of transparency and predictability. There are no free trade zones in Tonga, but in 1980 the government established the Small Business Center near Nuku'alofa that serves as an improved industrial park for small enterprises.

The bulk of Tonga's foreign reserves are invested in Australia. In 2002, in an extraordinary financial scandal it was revealed that all by about $2.2 million of the Tonga Trust Fund (TTF)$26.5 in allhad been lost.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Tonga's eight five-year plans (19662008) emphasized development of the islands' economic infrastructure, increasing agricultural production by revitalizing the copra and banana industries, improvements in telecommunications and transport, and expansion of tourism, industry, and exports. Through the nonprofit Commodities Board, the government has a trading monopoly in copra, bananas, melons, and other produce. In the 1990s, tourism revenues helped offset Tonga's large merchandise trade deficits, but substantial amounts of foreign aid continued to be required. From 199398, the economic growth was driven by a rise in exports of squash, increases in aid, and several large construction projects. Growth peaked in 1999/2000 at 6.5% but then plunged to only 0.5% in 2000/01 in the global recession that began the first quarter of 2001. The GDP growth rate in 2002 stood at 1.5% and at 1.9% in 2003.

The country is working toward improvement of the quality and standard of living for all Tongans. This is to be achieved through policy initiatives in five areas: 1) currency stabilization; 2) privatization; 3) updating and restructuring of the operations of stateowned enterprises (SOEs); 4) maintenance and improvements in the infrastructure; and 5) environmental protection. Other goals include continuing support for public sector reform; promotion of the private sector as the engine of growth; and sustainable environmental management and equitable social development. The economic reforms are being pursued in conjunction with political reforms that aim at bringing more democracy to the government.

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Every family is provided by law with sufficient land to support itself. There is no social welfare department; the medical and education departments and the missions provide what welfare services are available. The only pension scheme is one for civil servants.

Polynesian cultural traditions have kept most women in subservient roles, and few have risen to positions of leadership. Inheritance laws discriminate against women, and women may not own land. Domestic violence is prevalent and dealt with according to tribal law and custom. Spousal rape is not recognized and the law specifies that relations between spouses cannot be deemed as rape. The Center for Women and Children focuses on improving the economic and social conditions for women. Child abuse is rare.

Human rights are generally well respected in Tonga. However, political dissent is suppressed.

HEALTH

Tongans receive free medical and dental treatment, but must pay for dentures. Non-Tongans are charged on a fixed scale. There is one government medical department hospital each in Tongatapu, Vava'u, Ha'apai, and Eau Island, with several dispensaries. There are 4 hospitals and 14 health care centers, with a total of 307 beds on the islands. In 2004, there were an estimated 34 physicians, 317 nurses, 19 midwives, and 32 dentists per 100,000 people.

Tonga is free of malaria and most tropical diseases, but tuberculosis, filariasis, typhoid fever, dysentery, and various eye and skin diseases remain common health problems. Nevertheless, in comparison with many other Pacific islands, Tonga is a healthy country. Approximately 85% of children were vaccinated against measles. By 1969, a joint WHO-UNICEF project had considerably reduced the incidence of yaws. Other health projects deal with school sanitation, community water supplies, maternal and child health, and nursing education. The population has access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

Life expectancy as of 2005 was estimated at 69.53 years. In the same year, infant mortality was an estimated 12.62 per 1,000 live births. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 24 and 5.6 per 1,000 people. The fertility rate was three children per woman.

HOUSING

Village houses usually have reed sides and a sloping roof thatched with sugarcane or coconut leaves; the posts are of ironwood, and braided cord takes the place of nails. More modern houses, especially in the towns, are built of wood, with roofs of corrugated iron. Unlike the village houses, they often contain more than one room and have verandas. Tongan taxpayers are entitled to an allotment of land from the governments. Each urban Tongan taxpayer receives an annual rent subsidy in lieu of this land allotment.

In 1986, the housing stock totaled 15,091 units. In 1996, the housing stock was at 16,194. The average household size was six people. In the decade between censuses, the number of European style homes increased by about 39% while the number of Tongan style hut dwellings decreased by over 60%. About 66% of all housing was of European style wooden construction, 19.5% was European style cement or brick, and 6.8% was Tongan style thatched roof and walls. At least 66% of all housing stock was on Tongatapu. About 84.6% of all households had access to piped water and 55.8% had flush toilets. About 81,4% of all housing was owner occupied.

EDUCATION

The first schools in Tonga were started by the Wesleyan Mission in 1828, even before the conversion to Christianity of the Tongans. Practically all primary education was controlled by the Mission until 1882 when the government took over the educational system. In 1906, various missionary organizations again were allowed to establish schools.

Primary education is compulsory for six years. No tuition is charged at government schools (except the high school), but small fees are charged at mission schools. General secondary school lasts for five years. Students may choose to continue with one or two more years of upper secondary education. Selected Tongan students prepare for the New Zealand school certificate examination.

In 2001, about 29% of children between the ages of three and four were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2000 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 72.8% of age-eligible students. It is estimated that about nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 22:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 14:1. In 2000, private schools accounted for about 9.2% of primary school enrollment and 72.8% of secondary enrollment.

The University of the South Pacific operates an extension center in Tonga. A teacher-training college, established in 1944, provides a two-year course. A government scholarship program provides the opportunity for Tongan students to pursue higher education abroad. In 2001, it was estimated that about 4% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 98.9%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.9% of GDP, or 13.2% of total government expenditures.

LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

Since 1971, the Ministry of Education has operated a joint library service with the University of the South Pacific. Its library in Nuku'alofa has 9,000 volumes covering agriculture, small business management, adult education, and an important collection of Pacificana. The Ministry of Education library has 12,500 volumes. Most of the secondary and high schools have libraries. The Tonga College Museum's collection includes artifacts of Tonga's history. Notable monuments include the great trilithon known as the Ha'amanga and some 45 langis, great rectangular platforms of recessed tiers of coral limestone blocks that were erected as the tombs of medieval kings.

MEDIA

The government's radiotelegraph station at Nuku'alofa has substations at Neiafu (Vava'u), Pangai, Ha'afeva and Nomuka (in the Ha'apai group), 'Eua, and Niuatoputapu. There is also a direct overseas telegraph service linking Nuku'alofa with Wellington, Suva, Apia, and Pago Pago. An internal radiotelephone service connects Nuku'alofa, 'Eua, Nomuka, Ha'afeva, and Vava'u, and a direct overseas radiotelephone service links Nuku'alofa to other Pacific island capitals. In 2002, there were 11,200 mainline phones in service throughout the country. In 2004, there were 9,000 mobile phones in use nationwide.

The Tonga Broadcasting Commission's Radio Tonga was established in 1961. It broadcasts about 75 hours a week in Tongan, English, Fijian, and Samoan; commercial advertising is accepted. In 2004 there were three privately owned radio stations. The government owned one of the three television stations operating in 2004. In 1997 Tonga had 600 radios and 18 television sets in use per 1,000 population. In 2002, there were 2,900 Internet subscribers.

In 2004, there were eight newspapers and newsmagazines in print. The government publishes a weekly newspaper, the Tonga Chronicle, which has an average circulation (in 2002) of 7,000 copies in Tongan and English. There are also church newspapers issued by missions and a few private publications printed at regular intervals.

The constitution provides for free speech and a free press, although occasional infringements of press freedoms do occur. In nongovernment publications, opposition opinion appears regularly, usually without interference, but journalists were being targeted for prosecution in civil lawsuits by the minister of police.

ORGANIZATIONS

Extension of consumer cooperatives has been actively encouraged by the government. The Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in Nuku'alofa.

National youth organizations are typically affiliated with religious or educational institutions, including the Catholic Youth Association, Free Church of Tonga Youth Associations, Free Wesleyan Church Youth Association, Tonga Ex-Commonwealth Youth Programme Diplomats Association, and Tupou Farmers. Scouting and YMCA/YWCA programs are also available. Meetings of Christian Endeavor societies and Bible classes are well attended by all ages. There are sports associations promoting amateur competitions for athletes of all ages in a variety of pastimes.

Every Tongan village has a community house where ceremonial cloth (tapa) is made by groups of women. The Tongan Women's Progressive Association, formed in 1956, conducts programs for the betterment of village conditions and holds classes in a variety of subjects. There is a national chapter of the Red Cross Society.

TOURISM, TRAVEL, AND RECREATION

Popular tourist sites are the royal palace and terraced tombs in Nuku'alofa. Most visitors enjoy a traditional evening feast of suckling pig, crayfish, chicken, and assorted accompaniments. Fishing, swimming, and sailing are popular. Rugby is a favorite spectator sport.

Tourists must have a valid passport as well as an onward/return ticket. Visitor's visas are required by nationals of 138 countries including China and Spain; they are provided upon arrival and valid for one month.

The tourist industry is a small but growing source of foreign exchange revenues. In 2003, there were 40,110 tourist arrivals, with 57% of travelers coming from Australia and New Zealand.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Nuku'alofa and other areas of Tonga at $167.

FAMOUS TONGANS

King George Tupou I (Taufa'ahu Tupou, 17971893) ruled for 48 years; during his reign, Tonga became a Christian nation, abolished serfdom, and acquired a constitution. His prime minister, Shirley Waldemar Baker (18311903), was a Wesleyan clergyman who, after being deposed in 1890, became an Episcopal minister and then returned to Tonga. The most famous Tongan of this century was Queen Salote Tupou (190065), whose rule began in 1918. Her dynasty, the Tupou, is the third branch of the royal family and traces its descent back to Ahoeitu, the first Tu'i Tonga of whom there is record. Queen Salote's son, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV (b.1918), succeeded to the throne in 1965 and was formally crowned in 1967.

DEPENDENCIES

Tonga has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bain, Kenneth. The New Friendly Islanders: The Tonga of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993.

Cook, James. The Explorations of Captain James Cook in the Pacific, as Told by Selections of His Own Journals, 17681779. New York: Heritage, 1958.

Craig, Robert D. Historical Dictionary of Polynesia. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2002.

Ellem, Elizabeth W. Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era 19001965. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press, 1999.

Lawson, Stephanie. Tradition Versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga, and Western Samoa. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Leibo, Steven A. East and Southeast Asia, 2005. 38th ed. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.: Stryker-Post Publications, 2005.

Huntsman, Judith (ed.). Tonga and Samoa: Images of Gender and Polity. Christchurch, N.Z.: Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, 1995.

Stanley, David. Tonga-Samoa Handbook. Emeryville, Calif.: Moon Publications, 1999.

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Tonga

PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS
TRAVEL

Compiled from the October 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Kingdom of Tonga

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 747 sq. km. (288 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Nuku’alofa (pop. 34,000).

Terrain: 171 islands, mainly raised coral but some volcanic; 48 inhabited.

Climate: Tropical, modified by trade winds. Warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December).

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Tongan(s).

Population: (2006 census) 101,169.

Age structure: 37.1% below 14; 4.2% over 65.

Annual growth rate: (2002 est.) 1.94%.

Ethnic groups: Tongan 98%, other Polynesian, European.

Religions: Christian.

Languages: Tongan, English.

Education: Literacy (2004)—98.9%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2004 est.)—20.4/1,000. Life expectancy at birth—68.56 yrs.: female—72.14 years; male—67.05 years.

Work force: (2003) 36,500: Agriculture—65%.

Unemployment: (2003) 5.2%.

Government

Type: Constitutional hereditary monarchy.

Constitution: 1875 (revised 1970).

Independence: June 4, 1970.

Government branches: Executive—monarch, prime minister, and cabinet. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly. Judicial—Court of Appeals (Privy Council), Supreme Court, Land Court, Magistrates’ Court.

Political subdivisions: Three main island groups—Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u.

Political parties: People's Democratic Party, Friendly Islands Human Rights and Democratic Movement.

Suffrage: Universal at age 21.

Budget: (2006/2007 est.) $85 million.

Economy (all figures in U.S. dollars)

GDP: (2003/2004) $148.9 million.

Per capita GDP: (2004 est.) $1,287.

GDP real growth rate: (2004/2005 est.) 2.3%.

Natural resources: Fish.

Agriculture: (30% of GDP) Products—squash, vanilla beans, root crops, fish, other marine products.

Industry: 10% of GNP.

Services: 60% of GDP.

Trade: (2005) Exports—$24.65 million; squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops. Major export markets—Japan, New Zealand, U.S., Australia, Fiji. Imports—$136.80 million; food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals. Major import sources—New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, U.S., Indonesia.

Fiscal year: July 1 to June 30.

GEOGRAPHY

Tonga is an archipelago directly south of Western Samoa. Its 171 islands, 48 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups—Vava'u, Ha'apai, and Tongatapu—and cover an 800-kilometer (500 mi.)-long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku′alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometers (99 sq. mi.). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a lime-stone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of lime-stone overlaying a volcanic base.

The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (December-April), during which the temperatures rise above 32°C (90°F), and a cooler period (May-November), with temperatures rarely rising above 27°C (80°F). The temperature increases from 23°C to 27°C (74°F to 80°F), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Tongatapu in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%.

PEOPLE

Tongans, a Polynesian group with a very small mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European, mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are about 500 Chinese.

More than two-thirds of the population of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. An increasing number of Tongans have moved into Nuku′alofa, Tonga's capital and only urban and commercial center, where increasingly Western and indigenous Polynesian cultural and living patterns have blended. For instance, the extended family life-style is declining, with young couples choosing to live on their own. None-theless, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. The Christian faith that has dominated Tongan life for almost two centuries is still influential. All commerce and entertainment activities cease on Sunday from midnight, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever. However, within the past five years, an unsuccessful attempt was made in parliament to amend the Sunday law.

Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. The state owns and operates 99% of the primary schools and 44% of secondary schools. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.

HISTORY

The word Tonga means “south” in numerous Polynesian languages. Some scholars believe the inhabitants originally came from the islands now known as Samoa. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Tonga islands have been settled since at least 500 B.C., and local traditions have carefully preserved the names of the Tongan sovereigns for about 1,000 years. The power of the Tongan monarchy reached its height in the 13th century. At the time, chieftains exercised political influence as far away as Samoa.

During the 14th century, the King of Tonga delegated much of his temporal power to a brother while retaining the spiritual authority. Sometime later, this process was repeated by the second royal line, thus resulting in three distinct lines: the Tu′i Tonga with spiritual authority, which is believed to have extended over much of Polynesia; the Tu′i Ha′atakalaua; and the Tu′i Kanokupolu. The latter two had temporal authority for carrying out much of the day-to-day administration of the kingdom.

Dutch navigators in 1616 were the first Europeans to sight the Tongan archipelago. The main island of Tongatapu was first visited by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. Continual contact with Europeans, however, did not begin until more than 125 years later. Captain James Cook visited the islands in 1773 and 1777 and gave the archipelago the name “the Friendly Islands” because of the gentle nature of the people he encountered. He, of course, was never aware of the acrimonious debate that raged among contending nobles over who should have the honor of attacking Cook's tiny fleet and killing its sailors. In 1789, the famous mutiny on the British ship, Bounty, took place in the waters between the Ha′apai and Nomuka island groups.

Shortly after Captain Cook's last visit, warfare broke out in the islands as the three lines of kings contended for dominance. At about the same time, young Tongan nobles serving as mercenaries took Tongan culture to Fiji's most eastern island group, the Laus. The first missionaries, attached to the London Missionary Society, arrived in Tonga in 1747. A second missionary group followed in 1822, led by Walter Lawry of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. They converted Taufa′ahau, one of the claimants to the Tu′i Kanokupolu line, and Christianity began to spread throughout the islands.

At the time of his conversion, Taufa′ahau took the name of Siaosi (George) and his consort assumed the name Salote (Charlotte) in honor of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England. In the following years, he united all of the Tongan islands for the first time in recorded history. In 1845, he was formally proclaimed King George Tupou I, and the present dynasty was founded. He established a constitution and a parliamentary government based, in some respects, on the British model. In 1862, he abolished the existing system of semi-serfdom and established an entirely alien system of land tenure. Under this system every male Tongan, upon reaching the age of 16, was entitled to rent—for life and at a nominal fee—a plot of bushland (called “api tuku-hau”) of 8.25 acres, plus a village allotment of about three-eights of an acre for his home (api kolo).

Tonga concluded a treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom in 1900 and came under British protection. It retained its independence and autonomy, while the United Kingdom agreed to handle its foreign affairs and protect it from external attack.

During World War II, in close collaboration with New Zealand, Tonga formed a local defense force of about 2,000 troops that saw action in the Solomon Islands. In addition, New Zealand and U.S. troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became a staging point for shipping.

A new treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom, signed in 1958 and ratified in May 1959, provided for a British Commissioner and consul in Tonga who were responsible to the Governor of Fiji in his capacity as British Chief Commissioner for Tonga. In mid-1965 the British Commissioner and consul became directly responsible to the U.K. Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. Tonga became fully independent on June 4, 1970, an event officially designated by the King as Tonga's “reentry into the community of nations.”

King Taufa′ahau Tupou IV died in September 2006 and was succeeded by King Siaosi Tupou V.

GOVERNMENT

Tonga is the South Pacific's last Polynesian kingdom. Its executive branch includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The unicameral Legislative Assembly is controlled by the royal family and nobles. It consists of nine nobles who are elected by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga and nine people's representatives elected by universal adult suffrage for 3-year terms. The cabinet includes 12 ministers, appointed by the monarch, currently including two from the nine selected nobles’ representatives and two from the nine elected people's representatives. The governors of Ha'apai and Vava'u are appointed to their offices and serve as ex officio members of the cabinet. The Legislative Assembly sits for 4 or 5 months a year.

Tonga's court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates’ Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.

The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages; the district official has authority over a group of villages.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

King: Siaosi TUPOU V

Prime Minister: Feleti SEVELE

Dep. Prime Min.: Viliami TANGI, Dr.

Min. of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, & Forestry: Peauafi HAUKINIMA

Min. of Civil Aviation, Marine, & Ports: Paul KARALUS

Min. of Communication: Feleti SEVELE

Min. of Defense: Sonatane Tu’akinamolahi Taumoepeau TUPOU

Min. of Disaster Relief & Activities: Feleti SEVELE

Min. of Education, Women's Affairs, & Culture: Tevita Hala PALEFAU

Min. of Finance: Siosiua UTOIKAMANU

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Sonatane Tu’akinamolahi Taumoepeau TUPOU

Min. of Health: Vailami TANGI, Dr.

Min. of Justice: Malia Viviena ’ Alisi Numia Afeaki TAUMOEPEAU

Min. of Labor, Commerce, & Industries: Feleti SEVELE

Min. of Lands, Survey, Natural Resources, & Environment: Siosaia Ma’Ulupekotofa TUITA

Min. of Police, Fire Services, & Prisons: Taimani SIAOSI ’Aho

Min. of Tourism: Fineasi FUNAKI

Min. of Training, Employment, Youth, & Sports: TU’IVAKANO

Min. of Works: NUKU

Attorney General: Malia Viviena ’Alisi Numia Afeaki TAUMOEPEAU

Governor, National Reserve Bank: Siosiua UTOIKAMANU

Ambassador to the US: Fekitamoeloa’UTOIKAMANU

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Fekitamoeloa’UTOIKAMANU

Tonga maintains an embassy at 250 East 51st Street, New York, New York 10022 (tel: 917-369-1136; fax: 917-369-1024). In addition, Tonga has a Consulate General in San Francisco.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

For most of the 20th century Tonga was quiet, inward-looking, and some-what isolated from developments elsewhere in the world. The Tongans, as a whole, continue to cling to many of their old traditions, including a respect for the nobility. However, an increasingly popular pro-democracy movement is articulating a rising demand for more rights for the common people and curbs to the influence of the nobility. Tonga's complex social structure is essentially broken into three tiers: the king, the nobles, and the commoners. Between the king, nobles, and commoners are matapule, sometimes called “talking chiefs,” who are allied with the king or a noble, and who may also hold estates. Obligations and responsibilities among the groups are reciprocal, and although the nobility are able to extract favors from people living on their estates, they likewise must extend favors to their people. Status and rank play a powerful role in personal relationships, even within families.

Tongans are beginning to confront the problem of how to preserve their cultural identity and traditions in the wake of the increasing impact of Western technology and culture. Migration and the gradual monetization of the economy have led to the breakdown of the traditional extended family. Some of the poor, traditionally cared for by the extended family, are now being left without visible means of support. The rapidly increasing population is already too great to provide the constitutionally mandated 8.25-acre plot of land or api tukuhau due each male at age 16. Population density reached 132 persons per square kilometer in 2002, fueling the growing population shift from farm and village to urban centers, where traditional societal and political structures are undergoing steady change. Increasing educational opportunities, expanded media penetration and foreign influences via the country's extensive diaspora have raised the political awareness of Tonga's commoners and stimulated dissent against the current system of government. In the past two decades, calls for political reform have gained wide-ranging support and momentum.

Historically, political reform has been slow in the kingdom. In a departure from this, the late King of Tonga announced in late 2004 that he would henceforth include people's representatives in the 12-member appointed cabinet. Following elections in March 2005, the king appointed two of nine recently elected people's representatives and two nobles’ representatives as cabinet ministers. In April 2005, Tonga's first official political party, the People's Democratic Party, was formed, and its candidate was elected to parliament in special May by-elections held to fill the two people's representational seats vacated by the king's cabinet appointments. The by-election also resulted in the election of the first woman to sit in the Tongan parliament in 24 years. Out of the nine current people's representatives, seven are members of Tongan democratic movements and two are independent. When the princely prime minister resigned from office in early 2006, People's Representative Feleti Sevele was appointed as the first commoner prime minister in modern times.

In late 2005, in the wake of a nation-wide strike by civil servants and a large pro-democracy demonstration, the Legislative Assembly established a National Committee for Political Reform to consult with Tongans at home and abroad on their ideas about political reforms. The report of the committee, presented to the Legislative Assembly on October 3, 2006, recommended political reforms that would have the public elect the majority in parliament, with the king choosing the prime minister and cabinet from parliament's ranks. Following this, the government proposed its own roadmap for political reform, in response to which the pro-democracy People's Committee for Political Reform, an amalgamation of public servant unions and associations, business people, and political movements including pro-democracy and human rights organizations in Tonga, submitted another proposal. The People's Committee called for immediate reforms and organized rallies to back this call during the Assembly's debate of the issues. On November 16, 2006, a People's Committee rally deteriorated into rioting during which hundreds of people rampaged through the central business sector of Nuku-alofa, smashing windows, looting and then burning shops and businesses. The central business district of Nuku-alofa was left in ruins, and the government declared a state of emergency to restore law and order to the capital. The state of emergency was repeatedly extended, and was still in place in late April 2007.

ECONOMY

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the more than half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Much of the monetary sector of the economy is dominated, if not owned, by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of telecommunications and electricity generation and supply. Many small businesses, particularly in the retail sector on Tongatapu, are owned by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-for-passports scheme ended in 1998. Royal-owned and Chinese businesses were among those targeted in the November 2006 rioting. The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very small-scale industries, which together contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities are to a large extent dominated by large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened. Following the destruction of the capital's commercial center in the November 2006 riots, government, business, and international donors have combined forces to support the reconstruction of Nuku’alofa.

Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Squash pumpkins, vanilla beans, and root crops such as cassava and yams, coffee, and noni are the major cash crops. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their api. More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining. Fisheries are also a growing export sector, with tuna, beche de mer, and seaweed being the major marine export products.

Tonga's development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island's communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. Government, international development agencies, and major donor nations have together identified a number of promising means to diversity the Tongan economy. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom's land area. Plantation coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of lumber.

The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. In February 2007, an international hotel chain signed an initial agreement to develop a major resort on Vava’u. An increasing number of international cruise ships are now visiting Vava’u and Nuku’alofa.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Tonga maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbors. It is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum. In 1998, it recognized China and broke relations with Taiwan

In 1972, Tonga laid claim to the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometers southwest of Nuku'alofa, to forestall efforts by a private Anglo-American group to establish an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs. The reefs are regularly patrolled by the Tonga Defense Services.

DEFENSE

The Tonga Defense Service (TDS) is a 450-person force. The force is comprised of a headquarters platoon and a light infantry company. A coastal naval unit of four small patrol boats and amphibious landing craft operates as a component of the TDS. The force's mission is to assist in maintenance of public order, to patrol coastal waters and fishing zones, and to engage in civic action and national development projects. The main base of operations is the capital, Nuku'alofa.

The TDS is partially supported by defense cooperation agreements with both Australia and New Zealand, which support the TDS with small in-country detachments of military technicians. The United States military provides training to the TDS and conducts humanitarian civic action projects in Tonga. In 2002, TDS soldiers were deployed as part of a multi-national regional peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands. In June 2004, the TDS sent 45 troops to Iraq as peacekeepers. In November 2006, after Nuku'alofa's central business district was destroyed in riots, the TDS was given emergency powers to maintain law and order, and to assist the police in their investigations.

U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS

The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. Tonga has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California, and Hawaii.

Trade between the U.S. and Tonga is relatively low, but it has seen a steady increase in recent years. In 2001 U.S. exports to Tonga totaled $4.8 million, and by 2005 they had increased to $10.78 million. In 2005, the U.S. imports from Tonga totaled $6.45 million.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Last Updated: 2/19/2008

SUVA (E) 31 Loftus Street, Suva, 679-331-4466, Fax 679-330-5106, Workweek: 0800-1730 (Mon-Thu), 0800-1500 (Fri), Website: http://suva.usembassy.gov.

AMB OMS:Cherisa K. Roe
ECO:Brian J. Siler
HRO:Ila Jurisson
MGT:Ila Jurisson
AMB:Larry M. Dinger
CON:Debra J. Towry
DCM:Theodore A. Mann
PAO:Jeffrey Robertson
COM:Quinn N. Plant
GSO:Jae S. Lee
RSO:James T. Suor
CLO:Vacant
DAO:Ltc. Patrick D. Reardon
EEO:Heather Coble
FMO:Ila Jurisson
ICASS:Chair Patrick D. Reardon
IMO:Steven A. Baldwin
ISO:Steven A. Baldwin
ISSO:Steven A. Baldwin
POL:Brian J. Siler
State ICASS:Joseph P. Murphy

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

January 17, 2008

Country Description: Tonga is a South Pacific island nation consisting of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Its agrarian economy is developing and its tourist industry, although limited, is growing. Tourist facilities are concentrated in and around the main island of Tongatapu where the capital, Nuku’alofa, is located. The Tongan Tourist Bureau has a wide range of information of interest to travelers. The web site is www.tongaholiday.com.

Entry Requirements: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days. Tonga collects a departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may wish to contact the Consulate General of Tonga at 360 Post Street, Suite 604, San Francisco, California 94108; telephone 415-781-0365.

Safety and Security: An organized movement for political reform exists in Tonga. Protests in November 2006 became violent, resulting in fires that destroyed much of the downtown area of Nuku’alofa. American citizens are advised to avoid large public gatherings and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations, as they could turn violent at any time. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's web site where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Tonga has three emergency contact numbers: 911 connects to the Tonga Telecommunications emergency operators; 922 connects directly to the police; and 933 connects directly to the hospital. Americans requiring immediate emergency services in Tonga should call one of these emergency contact numbers.

Crime: Although the crime rate in Tonga is low compared to that in the U.S. and most European countries, petty crime and theft does take place. Though rare, crimes against persons occur as well. Visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at (679) 331 4466 (ask for American Citizen Services). If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in Tonga are extremely limited. The cities of Nuku’alofa and Neiafu have hospitals with limited emergency and outpatient facilities. Local residents and visitors with serious medical problems are often referred to New Zealand for treatment. For additional information on medical visas for New Zealand, contact the Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008, (202) 328-4800 or the Consulate General in Los Angeles (310) 207-1605. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tonga is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

No roadside assistance is available. Traffic moves on the left in Tonga. While roads in Nuku’alofa are paved, most other roads are not. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous. For specific information concerning Tonga driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco.

Visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.tongaholiday.com.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Tonga's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Tonga's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may visit the FAA’ web site at http://www.faa.gov/.

Special Circumstances: Tonga's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tonga of items such as firearms, explosives, motor vehicles, eggs, and certain types of alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco for specific information regarding customs requirements. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, be notified.

The cyclone season is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available online at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1207.html and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tongan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration and Embassy Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. diplomatic or consular post in Tonga. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in Tonga. Americans living or traveling in Tonga are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva through the State Department's travel registration web site, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Tonga. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji is located at 31 Loftus Street in Fiji's capital city of Suva. The telephone number is (679) 331-4466; the fax number is (679) 330-2267. Information may also be obtained by visiting the Embassy's home page at http://suva.usembassy.gov. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

International Adoption

November 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Tongan law states that prospective adopting parents must reside with the child for period of at least six months prior to the application for adoption of that child. In addition, under Tongan law, only illegitimate children may be adopted.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Tonga is the adoption authority. The address for the Supreme Court in Tonga is:

P. O. Box 11 Nuku’alofa, Tonga Phone: (676) 23599.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Tongan law permits both single and married foreigners to adopt Tongan children. There is no specific minimum or maximum age requirement for adoptive parents. However, the prospective parents must show themselves able to provide adequate emotional and financial support for the child. Under no circumstances are proxy adoptions allowed.

Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must reside with the child for six months prior to the application for adoption of that child. The Supreme Court occasionally waives the residency requirements in exceptional cases.

Time Frame: Currently, the typical time frame from physically meeting the child to having an adoption order is six to eight months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Adoption agencies and intermediaries specializing in adoption do not exist in Tonga. Many prospective adoptive parents work through church organizations in Tonga to request assistance in identifying children who might be available for adoption. In practice, most Tongan adoptions occur within the child's birth family.

Although Tonga does not have adoption agencies, American prospective adoptive parents may still choose to work with a U.S. adoption agency to assist with the U.S. portions of the adoption process. If they do so, they should fully research any such adoption agency or facilitator.

Adoption Fees: The Tongan government fee is around US$17 per child, up to a maximum of less than US$25 if adopting more than one child. Tongan attorney fees generally range between US$300 and US$400 per child.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents must first identify a child whom they wish to adopt. They then file an application for letters of adoption with the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court. After reviewing the application to ensure that it is in order, the Supreme Court appoints a Guardian Ad Litem (usually a representative from Crown Law) to compile a report with recommendations on whether or not the applicants should be granted letters of adoption.

When the Court receives the Guardian Ad Litem report, it will set a date to hear the application, which is usually done in chambers in the presence of the applicants. At that hearing, the judge will make a decision and notify the applicants (if they aren’t present).

It is customary for Tongans who wish to adopt a child to contribute to the child's maintenance between the time of the request to the biological mother and the issuance of letters of adoption. All other payments are prohibited. An affidavit of declarations about the applicants must specifically declare any payments.

The sworn affidavit of declaration from prospective adoptive parents must declare any payments made towards the welfare of the child. Tongan authorities take child buying very seriously and they would like to rule out is any circumstance/instance in which the child's biological mother is paid to give her consent to the adoption of the child.

Almost all Tongan adoptions involve direct relinquishments of children by their birth mothers to the adoptive parents, and almost all are arranged either between relatives, by close friends, or through religious institutions. Please note that in some instances, such direct relinquishments, while appropriate under Tongan law, may complicate the U.S. immigration process. American prospective adoptive parents considering a Tongan adoption in which the child will be directly relinquished should contact the U.S. Embassy in Suva (Fiji) early in the process to confirm whether the circumstances of their specific case will or will not preclude the child's immigration to the United States.

Required Documents: Prospective adopting parents must provide the following documents when submitting an application for adoption to the Tonga Supreme Court:

  • An independent home study report must be submitted by all overseas applicants for adoptions.
  • pplication for adoption.
  • Evidence that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. (For example, a statement of the prospective adoptive parents’ motives for adoption, proof of financial capabilities, etc.)
  • Child's original birth certificate.
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ marriage license (if married).
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ birth certificates.
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ financial information, such as bank statements, job letters, etc.
  • eath certificate(s) of birth parents of child (if deceased).
  • Consent to adoption from biological mother.
  • Sworn affidavits of applicants for letters of adoption and sworn affidavits of the child's biological parents.
  • Two letters of support/recommendations from the prospective adoptive parents neighbors or friends stating the suitability of applicants for adopting.
  • Fee of US $5.00 for the application for adoption.

Once the application is approved, the applicants have to pay a second fee of US$12.00 for the Letter of Adoption.

Guardianship: The Tongan Legal Guardianship Act of 2004 makes it possible for Tongan authorities to grant legal guardianship of legitimate children under age 18. However, Tongan law is silent about (neither prohibits nor approves) whether such children may be removed from Tonga to be adopted in another country. American citizens interested in pursuing legal guardianship of a Tongan child should consult a Tongan attorney for the latest information.

Passports: Current Tongan law places restrictions on the issuance of Tongan passports to Tongan children adopted by foreigners. The children may obtain Tongan passports, but only in their birth (rather than adoptive) names. It is advisable that applicants for letters of adoption that their prospective adoptive child already has a Tongan passport before the adoption order has been granted. American prospective adoptive parents do not have legal standing to apply for a Tongan passport for a minor child. The biological parent or a Tongan legal guardian must consent to the passport application. Tongan law clearly states, “The adopted person shall bear the name of and be deemed to be of the same nationality as the person to whom Letters of Adoption have been granted by the Court.”

Note: The Tongan Government is proposing to pass a Dual Nationality Law in the near future. It is unclear, however, what this law may contain or how it may affect adoptions of Tongan children.

Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga
250 East 51st Street,
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (917) 369-1136
Fax: (917) 369-1024

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigrationo of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of the United States 31 Loftus Street P.O. Box 21 Suva, Fiji Tel: (679) 331-4466 Fax: (679) 330-2267 Recorded Information: (679) 330-3888 E-mail: [email protected] Web site: http://suva.usembassy.gov/index.html.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Tonga may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Suva. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, Toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

views updated

Tonga

Compiled from the July 2006 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Kingdom of Tonga

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

PEOPLE

HISTORY

GOVERNMENT

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

ECONOMY

FOREIGN RELATIONS

DEFENSE

U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS

TRAVEL

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 747 sq. km. (288 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Nuku’alofa (pop. 34,000).

Terrain: 171 islands, mainly raised coral but some volcanic.

Climate: Tropical, modified by trade winds. Warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December).

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Tongan(s).

Population: (2002 est.) 110,237.

Age structure: 37.1% below 14; 4.2% over 65.

Annual growth rate: (2002 est.) 1.94%.

Ethnic groups: Tongan 98%, other Polynesian, European.

Religions: Wesleyan Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon.

Languages: Tongan, English.

Education: Literacy (2001 est.)—98.5%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2002 est.)—12.62/1,000. Life expectancy at birth—68.56 yrs.: female—72.14 years; male—67.05 years.

Work force: (1997 est.) 33,908: Agriculture—65%.

Unemployment: (1996 est.) 13.3%.

Government

Type: Constitutional hereditary monarchy.

Constitution: 1875 (revised 1970).

Independence: June 4, 1970.

Government branches: Executive—Monarch, Prime Minister and Cabinet. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly. Judicial—Court of Appeals (Privy Council), Supreme Court, Land Court, Magistrates’ Court.

Political subdivisions: Three main island groups—Ha’apai, Tongatapu, Vava’u.

Political parties: People’s Democratic Party.

Suffrage: Universal at age 21.

Budget: (2003 est.) $75.2 million.

Economy (all figures in U.S. dollars)

GDP: (2004 est.) $131 million.

Per capita GDP: (2004 est.) $1,287.

GDP real growth rate: (2000 est.) -0.5%.

Natural resources: Fish.

Agriculture: (30% of GDP) Products—Squash, coconuts, copra (dried coconut meat); bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper, fish.

Industry: 10% of GNP.

Services: 60% of GDP.

Trade: (2003 est.) Exports—$18.2 million; squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops. Major export markets—Japan, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Fiji. Imports—$104.2 million; food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals. Major importers—New Zealand, Japan, Australia, U.S., Fiji.

Fiscal year: July 1 to June 30.

GEOGRAPHY

Tonga is an archipelago directly south of Western Samoa. Its 171 islands, 48 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups—Vava’u, Ha’apai, and Tongatapu—and cover an 800-kilometer (500 mi.)-long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku’alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometers (99 sq. mi.). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.

The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (December-April), during which the temperatures rise above 32°C (90°F), and a cooler period (May-November), with temperatures rarely rising above 27°C (80°F).

The temperature increases from 23°C to 27°C (74°F to 80°F), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Tongatapu in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%.

PEOPLE

Almost two-thirds of the population of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial center, Nuku’alofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever.

Tongans, a Polynesian group with a very small mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European, mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are several hundred Chinese.

Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 83% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level education. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women’s business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.

HISTORY

The word Tonga means “south” in numerous Polynesian languages. Some scholars believe the inhabitants originally came from the islands now known as Samoa. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Tonga islands have been settled since at least 500 B.C., and local traditions have carefully preserved the names of the Tongan sovereign for about 1,000 years. The power of the Tongan monarchy reached its height in the 13th century. At the time, chieftains exercised political influence as far away as Samoa.

During the 14th century, the King of Tonga delegated much of his temporal power to a brother while retaining the spiritual authority. Sometime later, this process was repeated by the second royal line, thus resulting in three distinct lines: the Tu’i Tonga with spiritual authority, which is believed to have extended over much of Polynesia; the Tu’i Ha’atakalaua; and the Tu’i Kanokupolu. The latter two had temporal authority for carrying out much of the day-to-day administration of the kingdom.

Dutch navigators in 1616 were the first Europeans to sight the Tongan archipelago. The main island of Tongatapu was first visited by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. Continual contact with Europeans, however, did not begin until more than 125 years later. Captain James Cook visited the islands in 1773 and 1777 and gave the archipelago the name “the Friendly Islands” because of the gentle nature of the people he encountered. He, of course, was never aware of the acrimonious debate that raged among contending nobles over who should have the honor of attacking Cook’s tiny fleet and killing its sailors. In 1789, the famous mutiny on the British ship, Bounty, took place in the waters between the Ha’apai and Nomuka island groups.

Shortly after Captain Cook’s last visit, warfare broke out in the islands as the three lines of kings contended for dominance. At about the same time, young Tongan nobles serving as mercenaries took Tongan culture to Fiji’s most eastern island group, the Laus. The first missionaries, attached to the London Missionary Society, arrived in Tonga in 1747. A second missionary group followed in 1822, led by Walter Lawry of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. They converted Taufa’ahau, one of the claimants to the Tu’i Kanokupolu line, and Christianity began to spread throughout the islands.

At the time of his conversion, Taufa’ahau took the name of Siaosi (George) and his consort assumed the name Salote (Charlotte) in honor of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England. In the following years, he united all of the Tongan islands for the first time in recorded history. In 1845, he was formally proclaimed King George Tupou I, and the present dynasty was founded. He established a constitution and a parliamentary government based, in some respects, on the British model. In 1862, he abolished the existing system of semi-serfdom and established an entirely alien system of land tenure. Under this system every male Tongan, upon reaching the age of 16, was entitled to rent—for life and at a nominal fee—a plot of bushland (called “api”) of 8.25 acres, plus a village allotment of about three-eighths of an acre for his home.

Tonga concluded a treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom in 1900 and came under British protection. It retained its independence and autonomy, while the United Kingdom agreed to handle its foreign affairs and protect it from external attack.

During World War II, in close collaboration with New Zealand, Tonga formed a local defense force of about 2,000 troops that saw action in the Solomon Islands. In addition, New Zealand and U.S. troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became a staging point for shipping.

A new treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom, signed in 1958 and ratified in May 1959, provided for a British Commissioner and consul in Tonga who were responsible to the Governor of Fiji in his capacity as British Chief Commissioner for Tonga. In mid-1965 the British Commissioner and consul became directly responsible to the U.K. Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. Tonga became fully independent on June 4, 1970, an event officially designated by the King as Tonga’s “reentry into the community of nations.”

GOVERNMENT

Tonga is the South Pacific’s last Polynesian kingdom. Its executive branch includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The unicameral Legislative Assembly is controlled by the royal family and noble families. It consists of nine nobles who are elected by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga and nine people’s representatives elected by universal adult suffrage for 3-year terms. The Cabinet includes 12 ministers, appointed by the monarch, including two from the nine selected nobles’ representatives and two from the nine elected people’s representatives. The governor of Ha’apai and Vava’u are appointed to their offices and serve as ex officio members of the cabinet. The Legislative Assembly sits for 4 or 5 months a year.

Tonga’s court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates’ Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.

The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages; the district official has authority over a group of villages.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 9/28/2006

King: Siaosi TUPOU V

Prime Minister: Feleti SEVELE

Dep. Prime Min.: Viliami TANGI, Dr.

Min. of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, & Forestry: Peauafi HAUKINIMA

Min. of Civil Aviation, Marine, & Ports: Paul KARALUS

Min. of Communication: Feleti SEVELE

Min. of Defense: Sonatane Tu’akinamolahi Taumoepeau TUPOU

Min. of Disaster Relief & Activities: Feleti SEVELE

Min. of Education, Women’s Affairs, & Culture: Tevita Hala PALEFAU

Min. of Finance: Siosiua UTOIKAMANU

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Sonatane Tu’akinamolahi Taumoepeau TUPOU

Min. of Health: Vailami TANGI, Dr.

Min. of Justice: Malia Viviena ‘Alisi Numia Afeaki TAUMOEPEAU

Min. of Labor, Commerce, & Industries: Feleti SEVELE

Min. of Lands, Survey, Natural Resources, & Environment: Siosaia Ma’Ulupekotofa TUITA

Min. of Police, Fire Services, & Prisons: Taimani SIAOSI ‘Aho

Min. of Tourism: Fineasi FUNAKI

Min. of Training, Employment, Youth, & Sports: TU’IVAKANO

Min. of Works: NUKU

Attorney General: Malia Viviena ‘Alisi Numia Afeaki TAUMOEPEAU

Governor, National Reserve Bank: Siosiua UTOIKAMANU

Ambassador to the US: Fekitamoeloa ‘UTOIKAMANU

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Fekitamoeloa ‘UTOIKAMANU

Tonga maintains an embassy at 250 East 51st Street, New York, New York 10022 (tel: 917-369-1136; fax: 917-369-1024). In addition, Tonga has a Consulate General in San Francisco.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS

For most of the 20th century Tonga was quiet, inward-looking, and somewhat isolated from developments elsewhere in the world. The Tongans, as a whole, continue to cling to many of their old traditions, including a respect for the nobility. Tonga’s complex social structure is essentially broken into three tiers: the king, the nobles, and the commoners. Between the king, nobles, and commoners are Matapule, sometimes called “talking chiefs,” who are associated with the king or a noble and who may or may not hold estates. Obligations and responsibilities are reciprocal, and although the nobility are able to extract favors from people living on their estates, they likewise must extend favors to their people. Status and rank play a powerful role in personal relationships, even within families.

Tongans are beginning to confront the problem of how to preserve their cultural identity and traditions in the wake of the increasing impact of Western technology and culture. Migration and the gradual monetization of the economy have led to the breakdown of the traditional extended family. Some of the poor, supported by the extended family, are now being left without visible means of support.

Educational opportunities for young commoners have advanced, and their increasing political awareness has stimulated some dissent against the nobility system. In addition, the rapidly increasing population is already too great to provide the constitutionally mandated 8.25-acre api for each male at age 16. In mid-1982, population density was 134 persons per square kilometer. Because of these factors, there is considerable pressure to move to the kingdom’s only urban center of migration.

The King of Tonga announced in late 2004 that he would henceforth include people’s representatives in the 12-member appointed cabinet. Following the election in March 2005, the Prime Minister appointed two of nine recently elected people’s representatives and two nobles’ representatives as Cabinet Ministers. In April 2005, Tonga’s first official political party, the People’s Democratic Party, was formed and its official candidate was elected to Parliament in special May by-elections, held to fill the two people’s representational seats vacated by the Cabinet Minister appointments. The by-election also resulted in the election of the first woman to sit in the Tongan Parliament in 24 years. Out of the nine current people’s representatives, seven are members of Tongan democratic movements and two are independent.

ECONOMY

Tonga’s economy is characterized by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country’s population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Much of the monetary sector of the economy is dominated, if not owned, by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of the telecommunications and satellite services. Much of small business, particularly retailing on Tongatapu, is now dominated by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-for-passports scheme ended in 1998.

The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very small-scale industries, all of which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country’s first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened.

Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Coconuts, vanilla beans, and bananas are the major cash crops. The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated coconut is the only significant industry. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their api. More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining.

Tonga’s development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island’s communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. The copra industry is plagued by world prices that have been depressed for years.

Efforts are being made to discover ways to diversify. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom’s land area but are decreasing as land is cleared. Coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of lumber.

The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Nuku’alofa and Vava’u.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Tonga, by a further modification of its treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom in July 1970, is responsible for its own external affairs. It maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbors. In 1998, it recognized China and broke relations with Taiwan.

In 1972, Tonga laid claim to the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometers southwest of Nuku’alofa, to forestall efforts by a private Anglo-American group, Ocean Life Research Foundation, to establish an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs.

DEFENSE

The Tonga Defense Service (TDS) is a 400-person force. The force is comprised of a headquarters platoon and a light infantry company. A coastal naval unit of four small patrol boats and amphibious landing craft operate as a component of the TDS. The force’s mission is to assist in maintenance of public order, to patrol coastal waters and fishing zones, and to engage in civic action and national development projects. The main base of operations is the capital, Nuku’alofa.

The TDS is partially supported by defense cooperation agreements with both Australia and New Zealand, which support the TDS with small in-country detachments of military technicians. The United States military provides training to the TDS and conducts humanitarian civic action projects in Tonga. In 2002, TDS soldiers were deployed as part of a multi-national regional peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands. In June 2004, Tonga sent a unit of 45 troops to Iraq as peacekeepers.

U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS

The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. Tonga has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California, and Hawaii.

There is little trade between the United States and Tonga. In 2001 U.S. exports to Tonga totaled $4.8 million while U.S. imports from Tonga totaled $7.7 million.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

SUVA (E) Address: 31 Loftus Street, Suva; Phone: 679-331-4466; Fax: 679-330-5106; Workweek: 0800–1700; Website: www.Amembassy-Fiji.gov.

AMB:Larry M. Dinger
AMB:Larry M. Dinger
AMB OMS:Cherisa K. Roe
DCM:Ted A. Mann
POL:Brian J. Siler
COM:Heidi L. Gibson
CON:Debra Towry
MGT:Ila S. Jurisson
AFSA:Michael Via
CLO:Sarah C. Oddo
DAO:Patrick D. Reardon
ECO:Brian J. Siler
EEO:vacant
EPA:Joseph P. Murphy
FMO:Ila Jurisson
GSO:Jae S. Lee
ICASS Chair:Oghale Oddo
IMO:Rydell C. Fletcher
ISO:Rydell C. Fletcher
ISSO:Rydell C. Fletcher
RSO:James T. Suor
State ICASS:Joe Murphy

Last Updated: 12/12/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet : February 9, 2007

Country Description: Tonga is a South Pacific island nation consisting of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Its agrarian economy is developing and its tourist industry, although limited, is growing. Tourist facilities are concentrated in and around the main island of Tongatapu where the capital, Nuku’alofa, is located. The Tongan Tourist Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at http://www.vacations.tvb.gov.to.

Exit/Entry Requirements: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days. Tonga collects a departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may wish to contact the Consulate General of Tonga at 360 Post Street, Suite 604, San Francisco, California 94108; telephone 415-781-0365.

Safety and Security: An organized movement for political reform exists in Tonga. Protests in November 2006 became violent, resulting in fires that destroyed much of the downtown area of Nuku’alofa. American citizens are advised to avoid large public gatherings and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations, as they could turn violent at any time. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet website where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Americans requiring immediate emergency services in Tonga should call 911 (922 and 933, respectively, are numbers for police and ambulance assistance).

Crime: Although the crime rate in Tonga is low compared to that in the U.S. and most European countries, petty crime and theft does take place. Though rare, crimes against persons occur as well. Visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at (679) 331 4466 (ask for American Citizen Services). If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in Tonga are limited. The cities of Nuku’alofa and Neiafu have hospitals with emergency and outpatient facilities. Local residents and visitors with serious medical problems are often referred to New Zealand for treatment. For additional information on medical visas for New Zealand, contact the Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20008, (202) 328-4800 or the Consulate General in Los Angeles (310) 207-1605. Internet: http://www.emb.com/nzemb. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tonga is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

No roadside assistance is available. Traffic moves on the left in Tonga. While roads in Nuku’alofa are paved, most other roads are not. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous. For specific information concerning Tonga driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco.

Visit the website of the country’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.vacations.tvb.gov.to.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Tonga’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Tonga’s air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may visit the FAA’s website at http://www.faa.gov.

Special Circumstances: Tonga’s customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tonga of items such as firearms, explosives, motor vehicles, eggs, and certain types of alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco for specific information regarding customs requirements.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, be notified.

The cyclone season is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. Please see our natural disaster preparedness information, and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website, http://www.fema.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tongan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children’s Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family.

Registration/Embassy Locations: There is no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. diplomatic or consular post in Tonga. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in Tonga. Americans living or traveling in Tonga are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Tonga. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji is located at 31 Loftus Street in Fiji’s capital city of Suva. The telephone number is (679) 331-4466; the fax number is (679) 330-2267.

Information may also be obtained by visiting the Embassy’s home page at http://fiji.usembassy.gov/. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

International Adoption : November 2006

The information below has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.

Please Note: Tongan law states that prospective adopting parents must reside with the child for period of at least six months prior to the application for adoption of that child. In addition, under Tongan law, only illegitimate children may be adopted.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Adoption Authority: The Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Tonga is the adoption authority. The address for the Supreme Court in Tonga is:

P. O. Box 11
Nuku’alofa, Tonga
Phone: (676) 23599.

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Tongan law permits both single and married foreigners to adopt Tongan children. There is no specific minimum or maximum age requirement for adoptive parents. However, the prospective parents must show themselves able to provide adequate emotional and financial support for the child. Under no circumstances are proxy adoptions allowed.

Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents must reside with the child for six months prior to the application for adoption of that child. The Supreme Court occasionally waives the residency requirements in exceptional cases.

Time Frame: Currently, the typical time frame from physically meeting the child to having an adoption order is six to eight months.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Adoption agencies and intermediaries specializing in adoption do not exist in Tonga. Many prospective adoptive parents work through church organizations in Tonga to request assistance in identifying children who might be available for adoption. In practice, most Tongan adoptions occur within the child’s birth family. Although Tonga does not have adoption agencies, American prospective adoptive parents may still choose to work with a U.S. adoption agency to assist with the U.S. portions of the adoption process. If they do so, they should fully research any such adoption agency or facilitator.

Adoption Fees: The Tongan government fee is around U.S.$17 per child, up to a maximum of less than U.S.$25 if adopting more than one child. Tongan attorney fees generally range between U.S.$300 and U.S.$400 per child.

Adoption Procedures: Prospective adoptive parents must first identify a child whom they wish to adopt. They then file an application for letters of adoption with the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court. After reviewing the application to ensure that it is in order, the Supreme Court appoints a Guardian Ad Litem (usually a representative from Crown Law) to compile a report with recommendations on whether or not the applicants should be granted letters of adoption.

When the Court receives the Guardian Ad Litem report, it will set a date to hear the application, which is usually done in chambers in the presence of the applicants. At that hearing, the judge will make a decision and notify the applicants (if they aren’t present).

It is customary for Tongans who wish to adopt a child to contribute to the child’s maintenance between the time of the request to the biological mother and the issuance of letters of adoption. All other payments are prohibited.

Almost all Tongan adoptions involve direct relinquishments of children by their birth mothers to the adoptive parents, and almost all are arranged either between relatives, by close friends, or through religious institutions. Please note that in some instances, such direct relinquishments, while appropriate under Tongan law, may complicate the U.S. immigration process. American prospective adoptive parents considering a Tongan adoption in which the child will be directly relinquished should contact the U.S. Embassy in Suva (Fiji) early in the process to confirm whether the circumstances of their specific case will or will not preclude the child’s immigration to the United States.

Documentary Requirements: Prospective adopting parents must provide the following documents when submitting an application for adoption to the Tonga Supreme Court:

  • An independent home study report must be submitted by all overseas applicants for adoptions.
  • Application for adoption.
  • Evidence that the adoption is in the best interest of the child. (For example, a statement of the prospective adoptive parents’ motives for adoption, proof of financial capabilities, etc.)
  • Child’s original birth certificate.
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ marriage license (if married).
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ birth certificates.
  • Prospective adoptive parents’ financial information, such as bank statements, job letters, etc.
  • Death certificate(s) of birth parents of child (if deceased).
  • Consent to adoption from biological mother.
  • Sworn affidavits of applicants for letters of adoption and sworn affidavits of the child’s biological parents. Prospective adoptive parents may write up their own Affidavits and get it sworn in the presence of a Commissioner of Oath or an attorney for a fee of U.S.$3.
  • Two letters of support/recommendations from the prospective adoptive parents neighbors or friends stating the suitability of applicants for adopting.
  • Fee of U.S. $5.00 for the application for adoption.
  • Once the application is approved, the applicants have to pay a second fee of U.S.$12.00 for the Letter of Adoption.

Guardianship: The Tongan Legal Guardianship Act of 2004 makes it possible for Tongan authorities to grant legal guardianship of legitimate children under age 18. However, Tongan law is silent about (neither prohibits nor approves) whether such children may be removed from Tonga to be adopted in another country. American citizens interested in pursuing legal guardianship of a Tongan child should consult a Tongan attorney for the latest information.

Passports: Current Tongan law places restrictions on the issuance of Tongan passports to Tongan children adopted by foreigners. The children may obtain Tongan passports, but only in their birth (rather than adoptive) names. It is advisable that applicants for letters of adoption that their prospective adoptive child already has a Tongan passport before the adoption order has been granted. American prospective adoptive parents do not have legal standing to apply for a Tongan passport for a minor child. The biological parent or a Tongan legal guardian must consent to the passport application. Tongan law clearly states, “The adopted person shall bear the name of and be deemed to be of the same nationality as the person to whom Letters of Adoption have been granted by the Court.”

Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga:
250 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (917) 369-1136
Fax: (917) 369-1024

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at www.travel.state.gov/family.

Embassy of the United States:
31 Loftus Street
P.O. Box 21
Suva, Fiji
Tel: (679) 331-4466
Fax: (679) 330-2267
Recorded Information: (679) 330-3888
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://suva.usembassy.gov/index.html.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Tonga may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Suva. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children’s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, Toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

Public Announcement : November 17, 2006

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert U.S. citizens traveling to and residing in the Kingdom of Tonga that major civil disturbances have taken place in the capital, Nuku’alofa. Many fires were set on November 16 and much of the city has been made off-limits by the authorities. There is risk of continued unrest. Although none of the unrest appears to be directed at Americans, we advise Americans to avoid the downtown areas of Nuku’alofa, especially areas around government buildings. This Public Announcement expires on March 17.

The Department of State advises all American citizens contemplating travel to Tonga to be aware of these civil disturbances. All American citizens in Tonga are urged to continue to monitor events closely and to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security.

The Department of State and the Embassy in Suva are continuing to follow developments closely. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). American citizens traveling or residing in Tonga are encouraged to register with the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy. American citizens may also register at https://travelregistration.state.gov. The Embassy is located at 31 Loftus Street in Suva. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy can be reached by calling (679) 331-4466 and by e-mail at [email protected]

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TONGA

Kingdom of Tonga

Pule'anga Tonga

COUNTRY OVERVIEW

LOCATION AND SIZE.

The Tonga archipelago (group of islands) is in the Pacific Ocean about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) southwest of Hawaii and about 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) northeast of New Zealand. The country consists of a series of islands, clustered into 3 main groups: Tongatapu, Ha'apai, and Vava'u; these were formerly known as the Friendly Islands. The total land area is 748 square kilometers (289 square miles), about 4 times the size of Washington, D.C. The coastline is 419 kilometers (260 miles). The capital is located on Tongatapu island.

POPULATION.

The population of Tonga was estimated at 102,321 in mid-2000, a slight increase over the 1996 census population of 97,784. In 2000 the birth rate stood at 27.2 per 1,000 while the death rate stood at 6.1 per 1,000. With a projected annual population growth rate of 0.6 percent in the decade beginning with 2001, the population is expected to reach 104,100 by 2010. This relatively slow rate of growth is a result of an annual net migration rate of 15.1 per 1,000 population. Much of this migration is to New Zealand, but Tongans have also settled in Australia, the United States, and Europe.

The population is predominantly of Tongan (Polynesian) ethnic origin, although there are small numbers of Europeans and Chinese. Only 32 percent of the population live in urban areas, mainly the capital, Nuku'alofa. The urban growth rate is only slightly higher than the total growth rate, which was estimated at 1.91 percent in 2000. The Tongan population is very young, with nearly 42 percent under 15 years of age. Those between the ages of 15 and 64 make up 54 percent of the population, with the remaining 4 percent 65 years old and over. Various branches of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism, the Tokaikolo Church of Christ, and Free Wesleyan, are among those practiced on Tonga.

OVERVIEW OF ECONOMY

On a chain of small islands in the South Pacific, Tonga's economy relies on several basic elements, including subsistence production (making enough to survive), agricultural exports, the remittances (money sent home by former citizens working abroad) of Tongan migrants, and international aid. In the villages of Tonga, there is a great reliance on subsistence production of food and other items. There is no reliable survey of the number of people working in subsistence activities, but if it is assumed that most of the adult population not formally employed are primarily subsistence producers, then about 28,000 are in this category. In 1996, about 29,400 persons were engaged in wage and salary employment, with a further 4,500 listed as unemployed.

Agricultural products and fish have always been the mainstays of the export economy. Tourism is relatively small-scale, employing only about 1,400 people in the mid-1990s, but it showed some growth in the decade up to 1997, with the number of visitors increasing by about 5 percent per year.

The Tongan economy also remains heavily dependent on 2 types of transfers from overseas, which together account for 27 percent of GDP. The private remittances of Tongan migrants in other countries are an important source of income for many families in Tonga. Government expenditure is supported by international aid, mainly originating from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Union.

POLITICS, GOVERNMENT, AND TAXATION

Tonga is the only surviving kingdom in the Pacific. Its 1875 constitution is the oldest one in the Pacific islands, and although Tonga was a "protected state" of Great Britain from 1900 to 1970, most Tongans maintain that their country was never a colony. The current system of government is a hereditary constitutional monarchy, with King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV ruling since 1965. Beneath the monarch, there are 33 nobles, who control most of the land in the country. The nobility was established in the constitution of 1875 and is based on inheritance. The prime minister, deputy prime minister, and cabinet are appointed by the king from this group. The unicameral (single house) Legislative Assembly (Fale Alea) is made up of 30 seats, 12 of which are reserved for the cabinet appointed by the monarch, 9 are selected by the nobles, and another 9 are elected by popular vote of all citizens over the age of 21 years.

The most important political development in recent years has been the formation of a party called the Human Rights and Democracy Movement (HRDM). In 1994 the HRDM was formed under the leadership of 'Akilisi Pohiva; in the 1999 elections this party won 5 of the 9 "commoner" seats in the Assembly. The HRDM has advocated a broader democratic base and land reforms that would reduce the power of the nobles; for these activities, Pohiva and others have been jailed for short periods for "contempt of Parliament."

About 20 percent of GDP in 1994-95 was raised by taxation, and this accounts for nearly 70 percent of government revenue. Trade taxes are the most important, making up 68 percent of tax revenues, and this is almost equally split between customs duties and port and services taxes. Direct and indirect taxes each make up a further 14 percent of tax revenue. Personal income tax is set at 10 percent and corporate tax is typically around 30 percent. In each case there are many possible exemptions, so these taxes raise less revenue than they might.

INFRASTRUCTURE, POWER, AND COMMUNICATIONS

Transport needs within Tonga are served by roads, shipping services, and air. There are about 680 kilometers (423 miles) of roads, with 184 kilometers (114 miles) paved. These serve most areas within the main islands, with transport provided by private vehicles and bus services. Shipping among the 3 main island groups is provided by the government-owned Shipping Corporation of Polynesia and the private Uata Shipping Lines. These offer regular passenger, cargo, and car ferry services throughout the country.

Royal Tongan Airlines provides international air services from Fua'amotu Airport, the only of the country's 5 airports that has a paved runway. It also links the 3 island groups with regular domestic flights.

Parts of Tonga's telecommunications network are old. Domestic phone services link most of the country via the government-owned Tonga Telecommunications Commission, but there has been little upgrading since the 1950s. International communications via satellite are provided by Cable and Wireless Limited. Electricity is widespread and is generated completely by imported fuels. Tonga had 1 Internet service provider as of 1999.

Communications
Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations a Radios a TV Stationsa Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Tonga 8,000 (1996) 302 (1996) AM 1; FM 2; shortwave 1 (2001) 61,000 1 (2001) 2,000 2 1,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Philippines 1.9 M 1.959 M (1998) AM 366; FM 290; shortwave 3 (1999) 11.5 M 31 3.7 M 33 500,000
Solomon Islands 8,000 658 AM 3; FM 0; shortwave 0 57,000 0 3,000 1 3,000
aData is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
bData is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
cData is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

ECONOMIC SECTORS

According to the Asian Development Bank, Tonga's economic sectors contributed to total GDP in 1999 in the following proportion: agriculture, fishing, and hunting, 29.9 percent; industry, 10.7 percent; services, 43.8 percent; other, 15.7 percent. In 1996, the same source reported that the total labor force of 33,900 was distributed in these sectors as follows: agriculture, 34 percent; industry, 22.8 percent; services, 43.2 percent.

The agriculture sector's contribution to GDP has been fairly consistent, dropping slightly from 31.6 percent in 1984 to 29.9 percent in 1999. Between 1994 and 1996, Tonga experienced a downturn in agricultural performance, along with declining price competitiveness internationally, and a weakening level of remittances from overseas migrants. This caused high unemployment in 1996. Industry, which contributed 10.7 percent of GDP in 1999, is made up of relatively small-scale processing of food and timber products for the local market, as well as small factories making products for export, including woolen goods. The service sector is the largest, made up mostly of the government subsector, and a smaller tourism one.

AGRICULTURE

Agriculture contributed 29.9 percent of GDP in 1999, and in 1996 employed 34 percent of the labor force. In terms of GDP this proportion has been fairly consistent through the 1980s and 1990s, despite fluctuations due to weather and unstable world market prices for agricultural products.

As in most Pacific countries, subsistence production for domestic use is an important part of the economy, although not well recorded. The export of agricultural products has been highly unpredictable over time. Through most of the 20th century, Tonga's main export was coconut products, mainly copra (dried coconut meat yielding coconut oil), but at various times other products have been exported in sizeable quantities, particularly bananas.

A specialized market for squash was established in the 1980s when Tonga secured a quota to supply the vegetable to Japan during several months of the year when other sources, especially New Zealand, were not producing. In the early 1990s, this source of export income grew, but in the second half of that decade, production fluctuated considerably as a result of disease, weather, and oversupply. Other squash producers from Vanuatu and Mexico have also offered competition by entering the same market.

Other agricultural products, such as bananas and market vegetables, are significant in the domestic market but have contributed very little to export income in recent years. Even vanilla beans, which were significant exports in the early 1990s, have declined in importance because of international competition. There has been a small but steady export of root crops, mostly to supply Tongan and other Pacific communities, especially in New Zealand. Kava (a mild legal narcotic) production has increased recently, and this has considerable export potential as illustrated by the success of this industry in Vanuatu.

Fish was the second most important export during the 1990s, mainly high-grade tuna and snapper. The potential sustainable harvest of tuna is about 30,000 tons a year, which is several times higher than the existing harvest. Most fish is exported unprocessed to the United States, Fiji, and American Samoa. A cannery in Tonga is under consideration, but a restraining factor is government legislation requiring that 90 percent of sales from such a venture would have to be to overseas buyers.

INDUSTRY

Industry contributed 10.7 percent of GDP in 1999, a slight decline from 1984, when it contributed 13.8 percent of GDP. The importance of industry to employment is somewhat greater than this, however, since 22.8 percent of the labor force is industrial. Construction was the biggest single sector, followed by manufacturing. The contribution of construction is variable, depending on the expansion of tourism infrastructure (especially hotels) and new businesses in any one year.

The most important manufacturing activities are related to food and timber processing, mainly for the local market. Under a trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand (SPARTECA), Tonga is allowed to export manufactured goods duty-free, and at times has been successful in establishing a market for woolen goods and other products produced in small factories or from home. The advantages of this trade agreement have declined with trade liberalization , which has opened up the Australian and New Zealand markets to cheaper Asian products.

SERVICES

The largest sector in terms of GDP and employment is services, making up 43.8 percent of GDP in 1999 and providing 43.2 percent of jobs in 1996. Within this sector, the largest employer is the government, in the areas of public administration and education. In terms of GDP the next largest subsector is trade (including hotels and restaurants), followed by transport, communications, and finance. It is not possible to separate tourism out from these data since it makes contributions to several of these subsectors.

TOURISM.

Tourism's contribution to GDP is rather minimal (about 2 to 3 percent), and it employs about 1,400 people. The industry began expanding in the late 1980s, when it welcomed 20,000 visitors per year, to 1995, when it welcomed 29,000, though there have been some fluctuations since then. Improvements in domestic and international air services have contributed to this growth, especially after the restructuring of Royal Air Tonga, the national airline. This carrier has flights to and from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, and Niue. Other airlines serving Tonga include Air New Zealand, Air Pacific, Polynesian Airlines, and Samoa Air. Tourists visit Tonga for beaches, sun, and diving, but also to explore sites unique to the region, such as the 19th century royal palace and the Ha'amonga-a-Maui, a large trilithon (stone arch-way) built by a Tongan king sometime before the 13th century. Also on the island of Tongatapu are trees full of sacred bats, which only the monarch is allowed to kill, although presumably does not because of their tourist value.

FINANCIAL SERVICES.

International financial services are limited in Tonga. The domestic market is mostly served by the Bank of Tonga, ANZ (Australia New Zealand) Bank, and MBF (Malaysian Borneo Finance).

RETAIL.

Retail services are typical of those available in a small Pacific nation. In the capital, Nuku'alofa, shops provide a reasonable range of products, mainly food goods from New Zealand and manufactured goods from Asia. In other parts of the country, small village shops supply only the most basic goods. Many Tongans also rely on goods packages from relatives living overseas, which are consumed within the family or sold to others.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

According to statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Tonga has had a negative trade balance since 1975. In 1975, Tonga's imports totaled $17 million and its exports $6 million. By 1998, according to the CIA World Factbook 2000, imports had risen to $69 million and exports to $8 million. This illustrates Tonga's very narrow export base, as it relies mainly on squash and fish, with small contributions from other agricultural and manufacturing products. Since squash is the most valuable export and the total production goes to Japan to be used in soups and various food products, that country accounts for more than 40 percent of Tonga's exports. The United States and New Zealand are the other significant export destinations, importing fish and small agricultural and manufacturing products respectively.

The most important imports into Tonga are foodstuffs, machines, and transport equipment. New Zealand is the most important source of foodstuffs and of some manufactures and is the source of about 35 percent of all imports. The next most important import sources are Australia, the United States, and Fiji.

The large negative trade balance is offset by other international transfers. Tourism contributes some international income, and there is potential for expansion in this sector. At the household level, the most important source of income is remittances from relatives living overseas, particularly in New Zealand, the United States and Australia. At the government level, international aid helps to counterbalance the large imbalance in trade.

MONEY

The value of the pa'anga against the U.S. dollar has halved over the past 2 decades, from 0.9859 to the U.S. dollar in 1982 to 1.997 in February 2001. Much of this devaluation took place during the early 1980s, and then again in the late 1990s. During the 1980s, the export value

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Tonga
Exports Imports
1975 .006 .017
1980 .007 .038
1985 .005 .041
1990 .011 .062
1995 .014 .077
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.
Exchange rates: Tonga
pa'anga (T$) per US$1
Jan 2001 1.9885
2000 1.7585
1999 1.5991
1998 1.4920
1997 1.2635
1996 1.2323
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

of coconut products and vanilla declined, and remittance income fluctuated, causing an impact on the currency. In the late 1990s and early 2000s a further serious devaluation occurred, and this may be partly attributed to the strong American dollar against the currencies of the Pacific region, including the New Zealand and Australian dollars, which are part of a number of currencies to which the pa'anga is linked.

The National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT) has several functions. One of these is to stabilize the Tongan currency. This is only possible, though, within the network of the other currencies to which the pa'anga is linked. The NRBT also monitors the economy by maintaining databases and providing advice on government spending and revenue, the supply of money, interest rates, and the trade balance.

POVERTY AND WEALTH

GDP per capita rose from $1,300 in 1975 to $1,868 in 1998, according to the Asian Development Bank. The CIA World Factbook 2000 reports a slightly higher figure, which it estimated at US$2,200 for 1998. Although the Human Development Indicator (HDI) for Tonga does not appear among the 174 countries which are ranked in the UNDP's Human Development Report 2000, it does appear in the UNDP's Pacific Human

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Tonga 2,250 2,100 2,200 N/A 2,200
United States 28,600 30,200 31,500 33,900 36,200
Philippines 2,600 3,200 3,500 3,600 3,800
Solomon Islands 3,000 3,000 2,600 2,650 2,000
Note: Data are estimates.
SOURCE: Handbook of the Nations, 17th,18th, 19th and 20theditions for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 data; CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online] for 2000 data.

Development Report 1999. In that report, Tonga has the sixth highest HDI of the 15 Pacific countries considered. Its GDP per capita is only the eighth highest of these countries, but it makes up for this with high indicators of education and health. Adult literacy for both men and women is reported to be near 99 percent, the highest of any Pacific country. Infant mortality, at 19 per 1,000, is one of the lowest in the Pacific, and this is illustrative of a good system of health delivery and a safe water system. Primary education is free and compulsory, and participation at secondary school is also high, resulting in a combined enrollment rate of 83 percent.

Still, there is some evidence of inequalities within the country. No calculated measures of the distribution of income or consumption are available, but there is some inequality of income between urban and rural areas. Squatter (one who lives somewhere without paying rent) settlements around the capital, Nuku'alofa, have a poor standard of housing and inadequate water and sanitation systems. In some rural areas, land access is inequitably distributed, despite the fact that all adult males on reaching their sixteenth birthday are supposed to be granted a plot of land by the local noble.

WORKING CONDITIONS

According to official statistics, about one-third of the workforce is not "economically active." These people are mainly village-based subsistence workers, a disproportionate number of whom are women, who are producing goods and services that are not exchanged for cash. Many of these aspire to become part of the country's formal sector. The situation for those who want wage employment does not appear good. It is estimated that of the 2,000 school graduates each year, only about 500 will find work in the formal sector. The rest must either return to the subsistence economy, continue job searching and become officially unemployed, or migrate. It is the latter option that many choose, and this partly explains why there are an estimated 50,000 Tongans living in other countries.

In the formal sector, about 37 percent of the work-force is female. While it is difficult to calculate, about 12 percent of the labor force is said to be unemployed. There is no comprehensive system of unemployment compensation, nor is there a general pension scheme. The country does not have a minimum wage law; workers did have some amount of protection in that they could live without a monetary income with the support of extended families and subsistence farming , if needed. There is no legal provision for labor unions in Tonga, although 2 associations that represent working groups are the Tonga Nurses' Association and the Friendly Islands Teachers' Association.

COUNTRY HISTORY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

1140 B.C. Evidence of human habitation and Lapita pottery.

950 A.D. Tuíi Tonga is the dominant leader.

1643. First European (Dutch) sighting of Tonga by Schouten and Le Maire.

1643-1800s. Many European contacts include visits by "explorers" from the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, and Spain, who introduce many new trade goods and diseases.

1777. British Captain James Cook explores what he calls the "Friendly Isles."

1822. First Christian conversions, by Wesleyan missionaries; Tonga becomes nominally Christian over the next 20 years.

1845. After civil wars, King Taufa'ahau Tupou I (George Tupou I) of the Ha'apai group becomes first ruler of a united Tonga.

1875. New constitution proclaims Tonga an independent constitutional monarchy.

1900. Great Britain declares Tonga a "protected state" but does not impose full colonial rule.

1918. Queen Salote Tupou III is crowned, and rules until 1965.

1960s. Large-scale migrations to New Zealand and elsewhere begin.

1965. King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, the current monarch, is crowned.

1990s. Rise of republican movement proposing full democracy and end of monarchy; squash becomes primary export, to Japanese market.

FUTURE TRENDS

The late 1990s was a period of economic stagnation by some indicators. Primary exports in agriculture, forestry, and fishing had declined as a result of drought, hurricane damage and unstable world prices. However, the balance of payments was still positive as a result of some growth in services and a steady flow of remittances. Both the private and public sectors have been making an ongoing attempt to identify niche markets for Tongan enterprise, ranging from the export of new agricultural products such as the vaguely narcotic but reputedly therapeutic kava, to the acquisition of a number of satellite television bands, which Tonga has successfully leased. Despite a relative lack of resources, there is some optimism for the future based on the high educational levels of Tonga's population and the international networks established by Tongan migrants. At the same time, there will be ongoing pressure to further democratize Tonga's political system. In the long term, the monarchy may survive, accompanied by a more democratic Parliament, although such a change is not likely to have a significant economic impact, other than perhaps allowing a more equitable distribution of wealth.

DEPENDENCIES

Tonga has no territories or colonies.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Asian Development Bank. "Key Indicators for Developing Asian and Pacific Countries." <http://www.adb.org/Tonga>. Accessed February.2001.

. Country Assistance Plan 2001-2003. Tonga: ADB, 2000.

. Tonga: Economic Performance and Selected Development Issues. Manila: ADB, 1996.

Fairbairn, Te'o I.J. "The Tongan Economy: Recent Performance and Future Challenges." Pacific Economic Bulletin. Vol. 13, No. 1, 1998.

Lal, Brij V. & Kate Fortune. The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2000.

United Nations Development Programme, Pacific Human Development Report 1999: Creating Opportunities. Suva: UNDP, 1999.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. "The World Factbook, 2000." <http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook>. Accessed January 2001.

Wardlow Friesen

CAPITAL:

Nuku'alofa.

MONETARY UNIT:

Pa'anga (T$ or TOP). There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 20, 50 seniti and 1 and 2 pa'anga, and notes of 1, 2, 5, 20, and 50 pa'anga. One pa'anga equals 100 seniti.

CHIEF EXPORTS:

Squash, fish, vanilla beans.

CHIEF IMPORTS:

Food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals.

GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT:

US$238 million.

BALANCE OF TRADE:

Exports: US$8 million (1998 est.). Imports: US$69 million (1998 est.).

views updated

TONGA

Compiled from the November 2003 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.


Official Name:
Kingdom of Tonga


PROFILE
GEOGRAPHY
PEOPLE
HISTORY
GOVERNMENT
POLITICAL CONDITIONS
ECONOMY
FOREIGN RELATIONS
DEFENSE
U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS
TRAVEL


PROFILE


Geography

Area: 747 sq. km. (288 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Nuku'alofa (pop. 34,000).

Terrain: 169 islands, mainly raised coral but some volcanic.

Climate: Tropical, modified by trade winds. Warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December).


People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Tongan(s).

Population: (2002 est.) 106,137.

Annual growth rate: (2002 est.) 1.85%.

Ethnic groups: Tongan 98%, other Polynesian, European.

Religions: Wesleyan Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon.

Languages: Tongan, English.

Education: Literacy (2001 est.)—98.5%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2002 est.)—13.72/1,000. Life expectancy at birth—68.56 yrs.: female—71.11 years; male—66.13 years.

Work force: (1997 est.) 33,908: Agriculture—65%.

Unemployment: (1996 est.) 13.3%.

Government

Type: Constitutional hereditary monarchy.

Constitution: 1875 (revised 1970).

Independence: June 4, 1970.

Branches: Executive—Prime Minister and Cabinet appointed by the King. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly. Judicial—Court of Appeals (Privy Council), Supreme Court, Land Court, Magistrates' Court.

Administrative subdivisions: Three main island groups—Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: Universal at age 21.

Central government budget: (2003 est.) $75.2 million.

Flag: Red field with red cross enclosed in white square on upper left quarter.


Economy

GDP: (2000 est.) $225 million.

Per capita GDP: $2,200.

GDP real growth rate: (2000 est.) 5.3%.

Natural resources: Fish.

Agriculture: (30% of GDP) Products—Squash, coconuts, copra (dried-coconut meat); bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper, fish.

Industry: 10% of GNP.

Services: 60% of GDP.

Trade: (2000 est.) Exports—$9.3 million; squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops. Major export markets—Japan, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Fiji. Imports—$70 million; food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals. Major importers—New Zealand, Japan, Australia, U.S., Fiji.

Fiscal year: July 1 to June 30.



GEOGRAPHY

Tonga is an archipelagodirectly south of Western Samoa. Its 169 islands, 96 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups—Vava'u, Ha' apai, and Tong atapu—and cover an 800-kilometer (500 mi.)-long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku'alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometers (99 sq. mi.). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.


The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (December-April), during which the temperatures rise above 32°C (90°F), and a cooler period (May-November), with temperatures rarely rising above 27°C (80°F). The temperature increases from 23°C to 27°C (74°F to 80°F), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Tongatapu in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%.



PEOPLE

Almost two-thirds of the population of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial center, Nuku'alofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever.


Tongans, a Polynesian group with a very small mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European, mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are several hundred Chinese.


Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 83% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level education. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.



HISTORY

The word Tonga means "south" in numerous Polynesian languages. Some scholars believe the inhabitants originally came from the islands now known as Samoa. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Tonga islands have been settled since at least 500 B.C., and local traditions have carefully preserved the names of the Tongan sovereign for about 1,000 years. The power of the Tongan monarchy reached its height in the 13th century. At the time, chieftains exercised political influence as far away as Samoa.

During the 14th century, the King of Tonga delegated much of his temporal power to a brother while retaining the spiritual authority. Sometime later, this process was repeated by the second royal line, thus resulting in three distinct lines: the Tu'i Tonga with spiritual authority, which is believed to have extended over much of Polynesia; the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua; and the Tu'i Kanokupolu. The latter two had temporal authority for carrying out much of the day-to-day administration of the kingdom.


Dutch navigators in 1616 were the first Europeans to sight the Tongan archipelago. The main island of Tongatapu was first visited by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. Continual contact with Europeans, however, did not begin until more than 125 years later. Captain James Cook visited the islands in 1773 and 1777 and gave the archipelago the name "the Friendly Islands" because of the gentle nature of the people he encountered. He, of course, was never aware of the acrimonious debate that raged among contending nobles over who should have the honor of attacking Cook's tiny fleet and killing its sailors. In 1789, the famous mutiny on the British ship, Bounty, took place in the waters between the Ha'apai and Nomuka island groups.


Shortly after Captain Cook's last visit, warfare broke out in the islands as the three lines of kings contended for dominance. At about the same time, young Tongan nobles serving as mercenaries took Tongan culture to Fiji's most eastern island group, the Laus. The first missionaries, attached to the London Missionary Society, arrived in Tonga in 1747. A second missionary group followed in 1822, led by Walter Lawry of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. They converted Taufa'ahau, one of the claimants to the Tu'i Kanokupoluline, and Christianity began to spread throughout the islands.

At the time of his conversion, Taufa'ahau took the name of Siaosi (George) and his consort assumed the name Salote (Charlotte) in honor of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England. In the following years, he united all of the Tongan islands for the first time in recorded history. In 1845, he was formally proclaimed King George Tupou I, and the present dynasty was founded. He established a constitution and a parliamentary government based, in some respects, on the British model. In 1862, he abolished the existing system of semi-serfdom and established an entirely alien system of land tenure. Under this system every male Tongan, upon reaching the age of 16, was entitled to rent—for life and at a nominal fee—a plot of bushland (api) of 8.25 acres, plus a village allotment of about three-eights of an acre for his home.


Tonga concluded a treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom in 1900 and came under British protection. It retained its independence and autonomy, while the United Kingdom agreed to handle its foreign affairs and protect it from external attack.


During World War II, in close collaboration with New Zealand, Tong a formed a local defense force of about 2,000 troops that saw action in the Solomon Islands. In addition, New Zealand and U.S. troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became a staging point for shipping.


A new treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom, signed in 1958 and ratified in May 1959, provided for a British Commissioner and consul in Tonga who were responsible to the Governor of Fiji in his capacity as British Chief Commissioner for Tonga. In mid-1965 the British Commissioner and consul became directly responsible to the U.K. Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. Tonga became fully independent on June 4, 1970, an event officially designated by the King as Tonga's "reentry into the community of nations."



GOVERNMENT

Tong a is the South Pacific's last Polynesian kingdom. Its executive branch includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The unicameral Legislative Assembly is controlled by the royal family and noble families. It consists of nine nobles who are elected by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga and nine people's representatives elected by universal adult suffrage for 3-year terms. The Legislature also includes 12 cabinet ministers, appointed by the monarch. The governor of Ha'apai and Vava'u are appointed to their offices and serve as ex officio members of the cabinet. The Legislative Assembly sits for 4 or 5 months a year.


Tonga's court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates' Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.


The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages, the district official has authority over a group of villages.


Principal Government Officials
Last Updated: 6/4/03


King: Tupou, IV, Taufa'ahau

Prime Minister: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Dep. Prime Min.: Topou, Tevita

Min. of Agriculture: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Min. of Civil Aviation: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince


Min. of Defense: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Min. of Education: Fakafanua, Tutoatasi

Min. of Finance: Utoikamanu, Siosiua

Min. of Fisheries: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Min. of Forestry: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Min. of Health: Tangi, Vailami, Dr.

Min. of Justice: Tupou, Tevita

Min. of Labor, Commerce, Industries, & Tourism: Paunga, Hulioo Tukikolongahau, Dr.

Min. of Lands, Survey, & Natural Resources: Fielakepa,

Min. of Marine Affairs: Cocker, Cecil James

Min. of Police & Prisons: Edwards, Clive William

Min. of Public Works & Disaster Relief Actitivies: Cocker, Cecil James Min. of Telecommunication: Ulukalala, Lavaka ata, Prince

Attorney General: Tupou, Tevita

Governor (Acting), National Reserve Bank: Utoikamanu, Siosiua

Ambassador to the US: Tupou, Sonatane Tua Taumoepeau

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Tupou, Sonatane Tua Taumoepeau



Tonga maintains an embassy at 250 East 51st Street, New York, New York 10022 (tel: 917-369-1136; fax: 917-369-1024). In addition, Tonga has a Consulate General in San Francisco.



POLITICAL CONDITIONS

For most of the 20th century Tonga was quiet, inward-looking, and somewhat isolated from developments elsewhere in the world. The Tongans, as a whole, continue to cling to many of their old traditions, including a respect for the nobility. Tonga's complex social structure is essentially broken into three tiers: the king, the nobles, and the commoners. Between the king, nobles, and commoners are Matapule, sometimes called "talking chiefs," who are associated with the king or a noble and who may or may not hold estates. Obligations and responsibilities are reciprocal, and although the nobility are able to extract favors from people living on their estates, they likewise must extend favors to their people. Status and rank play a powerful role in personal relationships, even within families.


Tongans are beginning to confront the problem of how to preserve their cultural identity and traditions in the wake of the increasing impact of Western technology and culture. Migration and the gradual monetization of the economy have led to the breakdown of the traditional extended family. Some of the poor, supported by the extended family, are now being left without visible means of support.

Educational opportunities for young commoners have advanced, and their increasing political awareness has stimulated some dissent against the nobility system. In addition, the rapidly increasing population is already too great to provide the constitutionally mandated 8.25 acre api for each male at age 16. In mid-1982, population density was 134 persons per square kilometer. Because of these factors, there is considerable pressure to move to the Kingdoms only urban center of migrate.


In March 2002 election, seven of nine popularly elected representatives were chosen under the pro-democratic banner with the remaining two representing "traditionalist" values. The nine nobles and all the cabinet ministers that sit in the Legislative Assembly generally support the government. Tonga is not a democracy; the people do not have the right to change their government through elections, although they can elect a minority of members of the Legislative Assembly


In 2003, a newspaper published in New Zealand in the Tongan language that has been critical of the government was prohibited from distribution in Tong a due to government objections to its political content. After the newspaper obtained two court orders, it has been distributed freely. A Media Operators Bill and constitutional amendment, which would restrict media freedom in Tonga, has been hotly debated in 2003. The legislation will allow the government to exert control over coverage of "cultural" and "moral" issues, ban publications it deems offensive, and ban foreign ownership of the media. In October 2003, thousands of Tongans marched peacefully through the streets of the capital city Nuku'alofa in an unprecedented demonstration against the government's plans to limit media freedom. Despite the protests, the Media Operators Bill and constitutional amendment passed the Legislature and as of December 2003 needed only the King's signature to become law.


ECONOMY

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large nonmonetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Much of the monetary sector of the economy is dominated, if not owned, by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of the telecommunications and satellite services. Much of small business, particularly retailing on Tongatapu, is now dominated by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-for-passports scheme ended in 1998.


The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very smallscale industries, all of which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened.


Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Coconuts, vanilla beans, and bananas are the major cash crops. The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated coconut is the only significant industry. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their api. More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining.


Tonga's development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island's communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. The copra industry is plagued by world prices that have been depressed for years.

Efforts are being made to discover ways to diversify. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom's land area but are decreasing as land is cleared. Coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of lumber.


The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Nuku'alofa and Vava'u.



FOREIGN RELATIONS

Tonga, by a further modification of its treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom in July 1970, is responsible for its own external affairs. It maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbors. In 1998, it recognized China and broke relations with Taiwan and the United Kingdom.


In 1972, Tonga laid claim to the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometers southwest of Nuku'olofa, to forestall efforts by a private Anglo-American group, Ocean Life Research Foundation, to establish an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs.



DEFENSE

The Tonga Defense Service (TDS) is a 400-person force. The force is comprised of a headquarters platoon and a light infantry company. A coastal naval unit of four small patrol boats and amphibious landing craft operate as a component of the TDS. The force's mission is to assist in maintenance of public order, to patrol coastal waters and fishing zones, and to engage in civic action and national development projects. The main base of operations is the capital, Nuku'alofa.

The TDS is partially supported by defense cooperation agreements with both Australia and New Zealand, which support the TDS with small in-country detachments of military technicians. The United States military provides training to the TDS and conducts humanitarian civic action projects in Tonga. In 2002, TDS soldiers were deployed as part of a multi-national regional peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands.



U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS

The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. Tonga has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California, and Hawaii.


There is little trade between the United States and Tonga. In 2001 U.S. exports to Tonga totaled $4.8 million while U.S. imports from Tonga totaled $7.7 million.


Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Suva, Fiji (E), 31 Loftus St. • P.O. Box 218, Tel [679] 331-4466, Fax 330-0081; EXEC Fax 330-3872; CON Fax 330-2267; ADM Fax 330-5106; DAO Fax 331-2603; PAO Fax 330-8685. E-mail: [email protected]

AMB: David L. Lyon
AMB OMS: Rosmary M. Patterson
DCM: Hugh M. Neighbour
POL/ECO: Edmond E. Seay III
ECO/COM: John Emery
CON: Kirk Lindly
MGT: Jeffery Robertson
DAO: MAJ Matthew P. Bragg, USMC
FAA: Chris Metts (res. Tokyo)
IRS: Karen Sena (res. Singapore)
DEA: Gene Susimoto (res. Canberra)
RSO: Wade Burton
IRM: Ryan C. Rhea
GSO: Emily A. Mestetsky


Last Modified: Monday, December 15, 2003



TRAVEL


Consular Information Sheet
September 3, 2003


Country Description: Tonga is a South Pacific island nation consisting of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tonga is a stable constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Common wealth. Its agrarian economy is developing and its tourist industry, although limited, is growing. Tourist facilities are concentrated in and around the main island of Tongatupu where the capital, Nuku'alofa, is located. The Tongan Tourist Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at www.vacations.tvb.gov.to.


Entry and Exit Requirements: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. Tonga collects a departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may wish to contact the Consulate General of Tonga at 360 Post Street, Suite 604, San Francisco, California 94108; telephone 415 781 0365.


Safety and Security: For the latest security in formation, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.


The Overseas Citizens Services call center at 1-888-407-4747 can answer general inquiries on safety and security overseas. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-317-472-2328. Americans requiring immediate emergency services in Tonga should call 911 in Tonga (or 922 for police and 933 for medical assistance).


Crime Information: The threat from criminal elements is considered medium to high. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at (679) 331 4466 (ask for American Citizen Services). If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.


U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at www.gpoaccess.gov, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs' website http://travel.state.gov.


Medical Facilities: Medical facilities in Tonga are limited. The cities of Nuku'alofa and Neiafu have hospitals with emergency and outpatient facilities. Local residents and visitors with serious medical problems are often referred to New Zealand for treatment. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.


When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.


Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs' website or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

Other Health Information: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's website at www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at www.who.int/ith.


Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tonga is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:


Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: None available


Traffic moves on the left in Tonga. While roads in Nuku'alofa are paved, most other roads are not. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous. For information concerning the rental and operation of motor vehicles in Tonga, contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco.


Aviation Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Tonga's civil aviation authority as category 1 - in compliance with international aviation standards for oversight of Tonga's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation in the United States at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's website, www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.


Customs Regulations: Tonga's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tonga of items such as firearms, explosives, motor vehicles, eggs, and certain types of alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco for specific information regarding customs requirements.


Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tongan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Consular Access: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji be notified.


Disaster Preparedness: The cyclone season is November through April and the Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at www.fema.gov/.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone the Overseas Citizens Services call center. The OCS call center can answer general inquiries regarding international adoptions and will forward calls to the appropriate country officer in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.


Registration/Embassy Location: There is no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. diplomatic or consular post in Tonga. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in Tonga. It is located at 31 Loftus Street in Fiji's capital city of Suva. The telephone number is (679) 331-4466; the fax number is (679) 330-2267. Americans may register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji and obtain up to date information on travel and security in Tonga from the Embassy. Information may also be obtained by visiting the Embassy's home page at www.amembassy-fiji.gov.

views updated

TONGA

Compiled from the January 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Kingdom of Tonga


PROFILE

Geography

Area: 747 sq. km. (288 sq. mi.).

Cities: Capital—Nuku'alofa (pop. 34,000).

Terrain: 169 islands, mainly raised coral but some volcanic.

Climate: Tropical, modified by trade winds. Warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December).

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective—Tongan(s).

Population: (2002 est.) 106,137.

Annual growth rate: (2002 est.) 1.85%.

Ethnic groups: Tongan 98%, other Polynesian, European.

Religions: Wesleyan Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon.

Languages: Tongan, English.

Education: Literacy (2001 est.)—98.5%.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2002 est.)—13.72/1,000. Life expectancy at birth—68.56 yrs.: female—71.11 years; male—66.13 years.

Work force: (1997 est.) 33,908: Agriculture—65%.

Unemployment (1996 est.) 13.3%.

Government

Type: Constitutional hereditary monarchy.

Constitution: 1875 (revised 1970).

Independence: June 4, 1970.

Branches: Executive—Prime Minister and Cabinet appointed by the King. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly. Judicial—Court of Appeals (Privy Council), Supreme Court, Land Court, Magistrates' Court.

Administrative subdivisions: Three main island groups—Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u.

Political parties: None.

Suffrage: Universal at age 21.

Central government budget: (2003 est.) $75.2 million.

Economy

GDP: (2000 est.) $225 million.

Per capita GDP: $2,200.

GDP real growth rate: (2000 est.) 5.3%.

Natural resources: Fish.

Agriculture: (30% of GDP) Products—Squash, coconuts, copra (dried coconut meat); bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper, fish.

Industry: 10% of GNP.

Services: 60% of GDP.

Trade: (2000 est.) Exports—$9.3 million; squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops. Major export markets—Japan, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Fiji. Imports—$70 million; food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals. Major importers—New Zealand, Japan, Australia, U.S., Fiji.

Fiscal year: July 1 to June 30.


GEOGRAPHY

Tonga is an archipelago directly south of Western Samoa. Its 169 islands, 96 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups—Vava'u, Ha'apai, and Tongatapu—and cover an 800-kilometer (500 mi.)-long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku'alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometers (99 sq. mi.). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.

The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (December-April), during which the temperatures rise above 32ºC (90ºF), and a cooler period (May-November), with temperatures rarely rising above 27ºC (80ºF). The temperature increases from 23ºC to 27ºC (74ºF to 80ºF), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Tongatapu in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%.


PEOPLE

Almost two-thirds of the population of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial center, Nuku'alofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever.

Tongans, a Polynesian group with a very small mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European, mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are several hundred Chinese.

Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 83% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level education. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.


HISTORY

The word Tonga means "south" in numerous Polynesian languages. Some scholars believe the inhabitants originally came from the islands now known as Samoa. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Tonga islands have been settled since at least 500 B.C., and local traditions have carefully preserved the names of the Tongan sovereign for about 1,000 years. The power of the Tongan monarchy reached its height in the 13th century. At the time, chieftains exercised political influence as far away as Samoa.

During the 14th century, the King of Tonga delegated much of his temporal power to a brother while retaining the spiritual authority. Sometime later, this process was repeated by the second royal line, thus resulting in three distinct lines: the Tu'i Tonga with spiritual authority, which is believed to have extended over much of Polynesia; the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua; and the Tu'i Kanokupolu. The latter two had temporal authority for carrying out much of the day-to-day administration of the kingdom.

Dutch navigators in 1616 were the first Europeans to sight the Tongan archipelago. The main island of Tongatapu was first visited by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. Continual contact with Europeans, however, did not begin until more than 125 years later. Captain James Cook visited the islands in 1773 and 1777 and gave the archipelago the name "the Friendly Islands" because of the gentle nature of the people he encountered. He, of course, was never aware of the acrimonious debate that raged among contending nobles over who should have the honor of attacking Cook's tiny fleet and killing its sailors. In 1789, the famous mutiny on the British ship, Bounty, took place in the waters between the Ha'apai and Nomuka island groups.

Shortly after Captain Cook's last visit, warfare broke out in the islands as the three lines of kings contended for dominance. At about the same time, young Tongan nobles serving as mercenaries took Tongan culture to Fiji's most eastern island group, the Laus. The first missionaries, attached to the London Missionary Society, arrived in Tonga in 1747. A second missionary group followed in 1822, led by Walter Lawry of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. They converted Taufa'ahau, one of the claimants to the Tu'i Kanokupolu line, and Christianity began to spread throughout the islands.

At the time of his conversion, Taufa'ahau took the name of Siaosi (George) and his consort assumed the name Salote (Charlotte) in honor of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England. In the following years, he united all of the Tongan islands for the first time in recorded history. In 1845, he was formally proclaimed King George Tupou I, and the present dynasty was founded. He established a constitution and a parliamentary government based, in some respects, on the British model. In 1862, he abolished the existing system of semi-serfdom and established an entirely alien system of land tenure. Under this system every male Tongan, upon reaching the age of 16, was entitled to rent—for life and at a nominal fee—a plot of bushland (api) of 8.25 acres, plus a village allotment of about three-eights of an acre for his home.

Tonga concluded a treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom in 1900 and came under British protection. It retained its independence and autonomy, while the United Kingdom agreed to handle its foreign affairs and protect it from external attack.

During World War II, in close collaboration with New Zealand, Tonga formed a local defense force of about 2,000 troops that saw action in the Solomon Islands. In addition, New Zealand and U.S. troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became a staging point for shipping.

A new treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom, signed in 1958 and ratified in May 1959, provided for a British Commissioner and consul in Tonga who were responsible to the Governor of Fiji in his capacity as British Chief Commissioner for Tonga. In mid-1965 the British Commissioner and consul became directly responsible to the U.K. Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. Tonga became fully independent on June 4, 1970, an event officially designated by the King as Tonga's "reentry into the community of nations."


GOVERNMENT

Tonga is the South Pacific's last Polynesian kingdom. Its executive branch includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The unicameral Legislative Assembly is controlled by the royal family and noble families. It consists of nine nobles who are elected by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga and nine people's representatives elected by universal adult suffrage for 3-year terms. The Legislature also includes 12 cabinet ministers, appointed by the monarch. The governor of Ha'apai and Vava'u are appointed to their offices and serve as exofficio members of the cabinet. The Legislative Assembly sits for 4 or 5 months a year.

Tonga's court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates' Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.

The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages, the district official has authority over a group of villages.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 9/29/04

King: Tupou IV , Taufa'ahau
Prime Minister: Ulukalala , Lavaka ata, Prince
Dep. Prime Min.: Cocker , Cecil James
Min. of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, & Food: Tuita , Siosaia Ma'Ulupekotofa
Min. of Civil Aviation: Ulukalala , Lavaka ata, Prince
Min. of Defense: Fetu'Utola Tupou , 'Aloua
Min. of Education (Acting): Bloomfield , Paula
Min. of Finance: Utoikamanu , Siosiua
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Tupou , Sonatane Tua Taumoepeau
Min. of Health: Tangi , Vailami, Dr.
Min. of Justice: Siaosi 'Aho , Taimani
Min. of Lands, Survey, & Natural Resources: Fielakepa
Min. of Marine Affairs: Ulukalala , Lavaka ata, Prince
Min. of Public Works & Disaster Relief Actitivies: Ulukalala , Lavaka ata, Prince
Min. of Telecommunication: Ulukalala , Lavaka ata, Prince
Attorney General: Siaosi 'Aho , Taimani
Governor, National Reserve Bank: Utoikamanu , Siosiua
Ambassador to the US: vacant
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: vacant

Tonga maintains an embassy at 250 East 51st Street, New York, New York 10022 (tel: 917-369-1136; fax: 917-369-1024). In addition, Tonga has a Consulate General in San Francisco.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

For most of the 20th century Tonga was quiet, inward-looking, and somewhat isolated from developments elsewhere in the world. The Tongans, as a whole, continue to cling to many of their old traditions, including a respect for the nobility. Tonga's complex social structure is essentially broken into three tiers: the king, the nobles, and the commoners. Between the king, nobles, and commoners are Matapule, sometimes called "talking chiefs," who are associated with the king or a noble and who may or may not hold estates. Obligations and responsibilities are reciprocal, and although the nobility are able to extract favors from people living on their estates, they likewise must extend favors to their people. Status and rank play a powerful role in personal relationships, even within families.

Tongans are beginning to confront the problem of how to preserve their cultural identity and traditions in the wake of the increasing impact of Western technology and culture. Migration and the gradual monetization of the economy have led to the breakdown of the traditional extended family. Some of the poor, supported by the extended family, are now being left without visible means of support.

Educational opportunities for young commoners have advanced, and their increasing political awareness has stimulated some dissent against the nobility system. In addition, the rapidly increasing population is already too great to provide the constitutionally mandated 8.25 acre api for each male at age 16. In mid-1982, population density was 134 persons per square kilometer. Because of these factors, there is considerable pressure to move to the Kingdoms only urban center of migrate.

In March 2002 election, seven of nine popularly elected representatives were chosen under the pro-democratic banner with the remaining two representing "traditionalist" values. The nine nobles and all the cabinet ministers that sit in the Legislative Assembly generally support the government. Tonga is not a democracy; the people do not have the right to change their government through elections, although they can elect a minority of members of the Legislative Assembly

In 2003, a newspaper published in New Zealand in the Tongan language that has been critical of the government was prohibited from distribution in Tonga due to government objections to its political content. After the newspaper obtained two court orders, it has been distributed freely. A Media Operators Bill and constitutional amendment, which would restrict media freedom in Tonga, has been hotly debated in 2003. The legislation will allow the government to exert control over coverage of "cultural" and "moral" issues, ban publications it deems offensive, and ban foreign ownership of the media. In October 2003, thousands of Tongans marched peacefully through the streets of the capital city Nuku'alofa in an unprecedented demonstration against the government's plans to limit media freedom. Despite the protests, the Media Operators Bill and constitutional amendment passed the Legislature and as of December 2003 needed only the King's signature to become law.


ECONOMY

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large nonmonetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Much of the monetary sector of the economy is dominated, if not owned, by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of the telecommunications and satellite services. Much of small business, particularly retailing on Tongatapu, is now dominated by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-for-passports scheme ended in 1998.

The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very smallscale industries, all of which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened.

Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Coconuts, vanilla beans, and bananas are the major cash crops. The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated coconut is the only significant industry. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their api. More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining.

Tonga's development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island's communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. The copra industry is plagued by world prices that have been depressed for years.

Efforts are being made to discover ways to diversify. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom's land area but are decreasing as land is cleared.

Coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of lumber.

The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Nuku'alofa and Vava'u.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Tonga, by a further modification of its treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom in July 1970, is responsible for its own external affairs. It maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbors. In 1998, it recognized China and broke relations with Taiwan.

In 1972, Tonga laid claim to the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometers southwest of Nuku'olofa, to forestall efforts by a private Anglo-American group, Ocean Life Research Foundation, to establish an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs.


DEFENSE

The Tonga Defense Service (TDS) is a 400-person force. The force is comprised of a headquarters platoon and a light infantry company. A coastal naval unit of four small patrol boats and amphibious landing craft operate as a component of the TDS. The force's mission is to assist in maintenance of public order, to patrol coastal waters and fishing zones, and to engage in civic action and national development projects. The main base of operations is the capital, Nuku'alofa.

The TDS is partially supported by defense cooperation agreements with both Australia and New Zealand, which support the TDS with small in-country detachments of military technicians. The United States military provides training to the TDS and conducts humanitarian civic action projects in Tonga. In 2002, TDS soldiers were deployed as part of a multi-national regional peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands. In June 2004, Tonga sent a unit of 45 troops to Iraq as peacekeepers.


U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS

The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. Tonga has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California, and Hawaii.

There is little trade between the United States and Tonga. In 2001 U.S. exports to Tonga totaled $4.8 million while U.S. imports from Tonga totaled $7.7 million.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

SUVA, Fiji (E) Address: 31 Loftus Street, Suva; Phone: 00679-331-4466; Fax: 00679-330-5106; INMARSAT Tel: 00679-330-1064; Workweek: 0800-1700; Website: www.Amembassy-Fiji.gov

AMB:David L. Lyon
AMB OMS:Rosmary M. Patterson
DCM:Vacant
POL:Edmond E. Seay
COM:John B. Emery
CON:Kirk D. Lindly
MGT:Jeffrey J. Robertson
AFSA:Ryan C. Rhea
CLO:Kelli Lewis
DAO:Vacant
ECO:Edmond E. Seay
EEO:John B. Emery
FMO:Jeffrey J. Robertson
GSO:Vacant
ICASS Chair:Kirk D. Lindly
IMO:Ryan C. Rhea
ISO:Ryan C. Rhea
ISSO:Ryan C. Rhea
PAO:John B. Emery
RSO:Wade W. Burton
Last Updated: 8/17/2004

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

December 6, 2004

Country Description: Tonga is a South Pacific island nation consisting of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tonga is a stable constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Its agrarian economy is developing and its tourist industry, although limited, is growing. Tourist facilities are concentrated in and around the main island of Tongatapu where the capital, Nuku'alofa, is located. The Tongan Tourist Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at http://www.vacations.tvb.gov.to.

Entry/Exit Requirements: A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. Tonga collects a departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may wish to contact the Consulate General of Tonga at 360 Post Street, Suite 604, San Francisco, California 94108; telephone 415-781-0365. See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Tonga and other countries.

Safety and Security: For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Americans requiring immediate emergency services in Tonga should call 911 in Tonga (or 922 for police and 933 for medical assistance).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.

Crime: Although the crime rate in Tonga is low compared to that in the U.S. and most European countries, petty crimes and thefts do occur. Visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables.

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at (679) 331 4466 (ask for American Citizen Services). If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed. See our information on Victims of Crime at http://travel.state.gov/travel/brochure_victim_assistance.html.

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical facilities in Tonga are limited. The cities of Nuku'alofa and Neiafu have hospitals with emergency and outpatient facilities. Local residents and visitors with serious medical problems are often referred to New Zealand for treatment. For additional information on medical visas, contact the Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (202/328-4800) or the Consulate General in Los Angeles (310/207-1605. Internet: http://www.emb.com/nzemb. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tonga is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

No roadside assistance is available. Traffic moves on the left in Tonga. While roads in Nuku'alofa are paved, most other roads are not. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous. For specific information concerning Tonga driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/abroad_roadsafety.html. Visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.vacations.tvb.gov.to.

Aviation Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Tonga as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation standards for oversight of Tonga's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation in the United States at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

Special Circumstances: Tonga's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tonga of items such as firearms, explosives, motor vehicles, eggs, and certain types of alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco for specific information regarding customs requirements.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, be notified.

The cyclone season is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/crisismg.html, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tongan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://travel.state.gov/family/index.html.

Registration/Embassy Location: There is no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. diplomatic or consular post in Tonga. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in Tonga. Americans living or traveling in Tonga are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Tonga. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy is located at 31 Loftus Street in Fiji's capital city of Suva. The telephone number is (679) 331-4466; the fax number is (679) 330-2267. Information may also be obtained by visiting the Embassy's home page at http://www.amembassy-fiji.gov. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

views updated

TONGA

Compiled from the December 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Kingdom of Tonga


PROFILE

Geography

Area:

747 sq. km. (288 sq. mi.).

Cities:

Capital—Nuku'alofa (pop. 34,000).

Terrain:

169 islands, mainly raised coral but some volcanic.

Climate:

Tropical, modified by trade winds. Warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December).

People

Nationality:

Noun and adjective—Tongan(s).

Population (2002 est.):

110,237.

Age structure:

37.1% below 14; 4.2% over 65.

Annual growth rate (2002 est.):

1.94%.

Ethnic groups:

Tongan 98%, other Polynesian, European.

Religion:

Wesleyan Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Mormon.

Language:

Tongan, English.

Education:

Literacy (2001 est.)—98.5%.

Health:

Infant mortality rate (2002 est.)—12.62/1,000. Life expectancy at birth—68.56 yrs.: female—72.14 years; male—67.05 years.

Work force (1997 est.) 33,908:

Agriculture—65%.

Unemployment (1996 est.):

13.3%.

Government

Type:

Constitutional hereditary monarchy.

Constitution:

1875 (revised 1970).

Independence:

June 4, 1970.

Branches:

Executive—Monarch, Prime Minister and Cabinet. Legislative—unicameral Legislative Assembly. Judicial—Court of Appeals (Privy Council), Supreme Court, Land Court, Magistrates' Court.

Administrative subdivisions:

Three main island groups—Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u.

Political parties:

People's Democratic Party.

Suffrage:

Universal at age 21.

Central government budget (2003 est.):

$75.2 million.

Economy

(all figures in U.S. dollars)

GDP (2004 est.):

$131 million.

Per capita GDP (2004 est.):

$1,287.

GDP real growth rate (2000 est.):

−0.5%.

Natural resources:

Fish.

Agriculture (30% of GDP):

Products—Squash, coconuts, copra (dried coconut meat); bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper, fish.

Industry:

10% of GNP.

Services:

60% of GDP.

Trade (2003 est.):

Exports—$18.2 million; squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops. Major export markets—Japan, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Fiji. Imports—$104.2 million; food, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals. Major importers—New Zealand, Japan, Australia, U.S., Fiji.

Fiscal year:

July 1 to June 30.


GEOGRAPHY

Tonga is an archipelago directly south of Western Samoa. Its 169 islands, 96 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups—Vava'u, Ha'apai, and Tongatapu—and cover an 800-kilometer (500 mi.)-long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku'alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometers (99 sq. mi.). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.

The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (December-April), during which the temperatures rise above 32ºC (90ºF), and a cooler period (May-November), with temperatures rarely rising above 27ºC (80ºF). The temperature increases from 23ºC to 27ºC (74ºF to 80ºF), and the annual rainfall is from 170 to 297 centimeters (67-117 in.) as one moves from Tongatapu in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%.


PEOPLE

Almost two-thirds of the population of the Kingdom of Tonga live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial center, Nuku'alofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever.

Tongans, a Polynesian group with a very small mixture of Melanesian, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European, mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are several hundred Chinese.

Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 83% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level education. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.


HISTORY

The word Tonga means "south" in numerous Polynesian languages. Some scholars believe the inhabitants originally came from the islands now known as Samoa. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Tonga islands have been settled since at least 500 B.C., and local traditions have carefully preserved the names of the Tongan sovereign for about 1,000 years. The power of the Tongan monarchy reached its height in the 13th century. At the time, chieftains exercised political influence as far away as Samoa.

During the 14th century, the King of Tonga delegated much of his temporal power to a brother while retaining the spiritual authority. Sometime later, this process was repeated by the second royal line, thus resulting in three distinct lines: the Tu'i Tonga with spiritual authority, which is believed to have extended over much of Polynesia; the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua; and the Tu'i Kanokupolu. The latter two had temporal authority for carrying out much of the day-to-day administration of the kingdom.

Dutch navigators in 1616 were the first Europeans to sight the Tongan archipelago. The main island of Tongatapu was first visited by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1643. Continual contact with Europeans, however, did not begin until more than 125 years later. Captain James Cook visited the islands in 1773 and 1777 and gave the archipelago the name "the Friendly Islands" because of the gentle nature of the people he encountered. He, of course, was never aware of the acrimonious debate that raged among contending nobles over who should have the honor of attacking Cook's tiny fleet and killing its sailors. In 1789, the famous mutiny on the British ship, Bounty, took place in the waters between the Ha'apai and Nomuka island groups.

Shortly after Captain Cook's last visit, warfare broke out in the islands as the three lines of kings contended for dominance. At about the same time, young Tongan nobles serving as mercenaries took Tongan culture to Fiji's most eastern island group, the Laus. The first missionaries, attached to the London Missionary Society, arrived in Tonga in 1747. A second missionary group followed in 1822, led by Walter Lawry of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. They converted Taufa'ahau, one of the claimants to the Tu'i Kanokupolu line, and Christianity began to spread throughout the islands.

At the time of his conversion, Taufa'ahau took the name of Siaosi (George) and his consort assumed the name Salote (Charlotte) in honor of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England. In the following years, he united all of the Tongan islands for the first time in recorded history. In 1845, he was formally proclaimed King George Tupou I, and the present dynasty was founded. He established a constitution and a parliamentary government based, in some respects, on the British model. In 1862, he abolished the existing system of semi-serfdom and established an entirely alien system of land tenure. Under this system every male Tongan, upon reaching the age of 16, was entitled to rent—for life and at a nominal fee—a plot of bushland (called "api") of 8.25 acres, plus a village allotment of about three-eights of an acre for his home.

Tonga concluded a treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom in 1900 and came under British protection. It retained its independence and autonomy, while the United Kingdom agreed to handle its foreign affairs and protect it from external attack.

During World War II, in close collaboration with New Zealand, Tonga formed a local defense force of about 2,000 troops that saw action in the Solomon Islands. In addition, New Zealand and U.S. troops were stationed on Tongatapu, which became a staging point for shipping.

A new treaty of friendship and protection with the United Kingdom, signed in 1958 and ratified in May 1959, provided for a British Commissioner and consul in Tonga who were responsible to the Governor of Fiji in his capacity as British Chief Commissioner for Tonga. In mid-1965 the British Commissioner and consul became directly responsible to the U.K. Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. Tonga became fully independent on June 4, 1970, an event officially designated by the King as Tonga's "reentry into the community of nations."


GOVERNMENT

Tonga is the South Pacific's last Polynesian kingdom. Its executive branch includes the prime minister and the cabinet, which becomes the Privy Council when presided over by the monarch. In intervals between legislative sessions, the Privy Council makes ordinances, which become law if confirmed by the legislature. The unicameral Legislative Assembly is controlled by the royal family and noble families. It consists of nine nobles who are elected by the 33 hereditary nobles of Tonga and nine people's representatives elected by universal adult suffrage for 3-year terms. The Cabinet includes 12 ministers, appointed by the monarch, including two from the nine selected nobles' representatives and two from the nine elected people's representatives. The governor of Ha'apai and Vava'u are appointed to their offices and serve as ex officio members of the cabinet. The Legislative Assembly sits for 4 or 5 months a year.

Tonga's court system consists of the Court of Appeal (Privy Council), the Supreme Court, the Magistrates' Court, and the Land Court. Judges are appointed by the monarch.

The only form of local government is through town and district officials who have been popularly elected since 1965. The town official represents the central government in the villages; the district official has authority over a group of villages.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 3/25/2005

King: Taufa'ahau TUPOU IV
Prime Minister: Lavaka ata ULUKALALA, Prince
Dep. Prime Min.: Cecil James COCKER
Min. of Agriculture & Food: Siosaia Ma'Ulupekotofa TUITA
Min. of Civil Aviation: Lavaka ata ULUKALALA, Prince
Min. of Communication: Lavaka ata ULUKALALA, Prince
Min. of Defense: 'Aloua Fetu'Utola TUPOU
Min. of Education: Tevita Hala PALEFAU
Min. of Environment: Cecil James COCKER
Min. of Finance: Siosiua UTOIKAMANU
Min. of Fisheries: Siosaia Ma'Ulupekotofa TUITA
Min. of Foreign Affairs: Sonatane Tua Taumoepeau TUPOU
Min. of Forestry: Peauafi HAUKINIMA
Min. of Health: Vailami TANGI, Dr.
Min. of Justice: Taimani SIAOSI 'Aho
Min. of Labor, Commerce, & Industries: Fred SEVELE
Min. of Lands, Survey, & Natural Resources: FIELAKEPA
Min. of Marine & Ports: Lavaka ata ULUKALALA, Prince
Min. of Police, Fire Services, & Prisons: NUKU
Min. of Tourism: Cecil James COCKER
Min. of Works & Disaster Relief Actitivies: TU'IVAKANO
Attorney General: Taimani SIAOSI 'Aho
Governor, National Reserve Bank: Siosiua UTOIKAMANU
Ambassador to the US: Fekitamoeloa 'UTOIKAMANU
Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Fekitamoeloa 'UTOIKAMANU

Tonga maintains an embassy at 250 East 51st Street, New York, New York 10022 (tel: 917-369-1136; fax: 917-369-1024). In addition, Tonga has a Consulate General in San Francisco.


POLITICAL CONDITIONS

For most of the 20th century Tonga was quiet, inward-looking, and somewhat isolated from developments elsewhere in the world. The Tongans, as a whole, continue to cling to many of their old traditions, including a respect for the nobility. Tonga's complex social structure is essentially broken into three tiers: the king, the nobles, and the commoners. Between the king, nobles, and commoners are Matapule, sometimes called "talking chiefs," who are associated with the king or a noble and who may or may not hold estates. Obligations and responsibilities are reciprocal, and although the nobility are able to extract favors from people living on their estates, they likewise must extend favors to their people. Status and rank play a powerful role in personal relationships, even within families.

Tongans are beginning to confront the problem of how to preserve their cultural identity and traditions in the wake of the increasing impact of Western technology and culture. Migration and the gradual monetization of the economy have led to the breakdown of the traditional extended family. Some of the poor, supported by the extended family, are now being left without visible means of support.

Educational opportunities for young commoners have advanced, and their increasing political awareness has stimulated some dissent against the nobility system. In addition, the rapidly increasing population is already too great to provide the constitutionally mandated 8.25-acre api for each male at age 16. In mid-1982, population density was 134 persons per square kilometer. Because of these factors, there is considerable pressure to move to the kingdom's only urban center of migration.

The King of Tonga announced in late 2004 that he would henceforth include people's representatives in the 12-member appointed cabinet. Following the election in March 2005, the Prime Minister appointed two of nine recently elected people's representatives and two nobles' representatives as Cabinet Ministers. In April 2005, Tonga's first official political party, the People's Democratic Party, was formed and its official candidate was elected to Parliament in special May by-elections, held to fill the two people's representational seats vacated by the Cabinet Minister appointments. The by-election also resulted in the election of the first woman to sit in the Tongan Parliament in 24 years. Out of the nine current people's representatives, seven are members of Tongan democratic movements and two are independent.


ECONOMY

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Much of the monetary sector of the economy is dominated, if not owned, by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of the telecommunications and satellite services. Much of small business, particularly retailing on Tongatapu, is now dominated by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-forpassports scheme ended in 1998.

The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very small-scale industries, all of which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened.

Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Coconuts, vanilla beans, and bananas are the major cash crops. The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated coconut is the only significant industry. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their api. More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining.

Tonga's development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island's communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. The copra industry is plagued by world prices that have been depressed for years.

Efforts are being made to discover ways to diversify. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom's land area but are decreasing as land is cleared. Coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of lumber.

The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Nuku'alofa and Vava'u.


FOREIGN RELATIONS

Tonga, by a further modification of its treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom in July 1970, is responsible for its own external affairs. It maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbors. In 1998, it recognized China and broke relations with Taiwan.

In 1972, Tonga laid claim to the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometers southwest of Nuku'alofa, to forestall efforts by a private Anglo-American group, Ocean Life Research Foundation, to establish an independent Republic of Minerva on the reefs.


DEFENSE

The Tonga Defense Service (TDS) is a 400-person force. The force is comprised of a headquarters platoon and a light infantry company. A coastal naval unit of four small patrol boats and amphibious landing craft operate as a component of the TDS. The force's mission is to assist in maintenance of public order, to patrol coastal waters and fishing zones, and to engage in civic action and national development projects. The main base of operations is the capital, Nuku'alofa.

The TDS is partially supported by defense cooperation agreements with both Australia and New Zealand, which support the TDS with small in-country detachments of military technicians. The United States military provides training to the TDS and conducts humanitarian civic action projects in Tonga. In 2002, TDS soldiers were deployed as part of a multi-national regional peacekeeping force in the Solomon Islands. In June 2004, Tonga sent a unit of 45 troops to Iraq as peacekeepers.


U.S.-TONGA RELATIONS

The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. Tonga has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who also is accredited as ambassador to the United States. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California, and Hawaii.

There is little trade between the United States and Tonga. In 2001 U.S. exports to Tonga totaled $4.8 million while U.S. imports from Tonga totaled $7.7 million.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

SUVA (E) Address: 31 Loftus Street, Suva; Phone: 00679-331-4466; Fax: 00679-330-5106; Workweek: 0800 - 1700; Website: www.Amembassy-Fiji.gov.

AMB:Larry M. Dinger
AMB OMS:Cherisa K. Roe
DCM:Ted A. Mann
POL:Brian J. Siler
COM:Heidi L. Hanneman
CON:Kirk D. Lindly
MGT:Jeffrey J. Robertson
AFSA:Rydell C. Fletcher
CLO:Sarah C. Oddo
DAO:Patrick D. Reardon
ECO:Brian J. Siler
EEO:Keisha K. Lafayette
FMO:Jeffrey J. Robertson
GSO:Jonathan P. Floss
ICASS Chair:Kirk D. Lindly
IMO:Rydell C. Fletcher
ISO:Rydell C. Fletcher
ISSO:Rydell C. Fletcher
RSO:James T. Suor
Last Updated: 1/8/2006

TRAVEL

Consular Information Sheet

July 15, 2005

Country Description:

Tonga is a South Pacific island nation consisting of 171 islands, of which 45 are inhabited. Tonga is a stable constitutional monarchy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Its agrarian economy is developing and its tourist industry, although limited, is growing. Tourist facilities are concentrated in and around the main island of Tongatapu where the capital, Nuku'alofa, is located. The Tongan Tourist Bureau, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at http://www.tongaholiday.com/.

Entry/Exit Requirements:

A passport and an onward/return ticket are required. Visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days. Tonga collects a departure tax. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, may wish to contact the Consulate General of Tonga at 360 Post Street, Suite 604, San Francisco, California 94108; telephone 415 781 0365.

Safety and Security:

For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Americans requiring immediate emergency services in Tonga should call 911 in Tonga (or 922 for police and 933 for medical assistance).

Crime:

Although the crime rate in Tonga is low compared to that in the U.S. and most European countries, petty crimes and thefts do occur. Visitors should not be complacent regarding personal safety or the protection of valuables.

Information for Victims of Crime:

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji at (679) 331 4466 (ask for American Citizen Services). If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney, if needed.

Medical Facilities and Health Information:

Medical facilities in Tonga are limited. The cities of Nuku'alofa and Neiafu have hospitals with emergency and outpatient facilities. Local residents and visitors with serious medical problems are often referred to New Zealand for treatment. For additional information on medical visas for New Zealand, contact the Embassy of New Zealand, 37 Observatory Circle, NW, Washington, DC 20008, (202) 328-4800 or the Consulate General in Los Angeles (310) 207-1605. Internet: http://www.emb.com/nzemb. Serious medical conditions requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.

Medical Insurance:

The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Tonga is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

No roadside assistance is available. Traffic moves on the left in Tonga. While roads in Nuku'alofa are paved, most other roads are not. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous. For specific information concerning Tonga driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco.

Visit the website of the country's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety at http://www.tongaholiday.com/.

Aviation Oversight:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Tonga as being in compliance with ICAO international aviation standards for oversight of Tonga's air carrier operations.

Special Circumstances:

Tonga's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Tonga of items such as firearms, explosives, motor vehicles, eggs, and certain types of alcohol. It is advisable to contact the Consulate General of Tonga in San Francisco for specific information regarding customs requirements.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. U.S. citizens who are detained are encouraged to request that a consular officer from the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, be notified. The cyclone season is November through April. The Fiji Meteorological Service maintains a Tropical Cyclone Warning Center (TCWC) in Nadi serving the Southwest Pacific Region.

Criminal Penalties:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than those in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Tongan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Children's Issues:

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at http://www.travel.state.gov/family/family_1732.html.

Registration/Embassy Location:

There is no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. diplomatic or consular post in Tonga. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji provides assistance for U.S. citizens in Tonga. Americans living or traveling in Tonga are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Suva through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Tonga. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Fiji is located at 31 Loftus Street in Fiji's capital city of Suva. The telephone number is (679) 331-4466; the fax number is (679) 330-2267. Information may also be obtained by visiting the Embassy's home page at http://www.amembassy-fiji.gov/. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

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Tonga

ETHNONYMS: Balumbila, Batoka, Batonga, Bawe, Toka


Orientation

Identification. The Tonga occupy much of Southern Province in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia), spilling over on the east into Zimbabwe (once Southern Rhodesia or Rhodesia). Tonga in Kalomo and Livingstone districts are known as Toka; to the north are Plateau Tonga; Gwembe Tonga live in Gwembe District and in nearby Zimbabwe. The Tonga never formed a single political unit. Today they are an ethnic group united by common language and in opposition to other Zambian ethnic groups, with whom they compete.

Location. Tonga country, Butonga, lies between 16° and 18° S and 26° and 29° E, bounded on the north by the Kafue and Sanyati rivers, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively. Its southern boundary follows the Zambezi and Gwai rivers. It includes the southern Zambian plateau, which rises to more than 1,000 meters, the escarpment hills facing the Middle Zambezi Valley, the Zambezi plain lying some 600 meters below the plateau, and the escarpment hills within Zimbabwe. The Middle Zambezi Valley is knows as Gwembe Valley. Average annual rainfall varies from nearly 80 centimeters at the escarpment edges to 40 centimeters in northern Gwembe Valley. Drought years are frequent. Rains are expected by mid-November and taper off through March and April, when the cold dry season begins. June and July may bring light frost. In late August the hot dry season begins abruptly. Temperatures in northern Gwembe may reach 45° C. The Zambian Railway and a highway paralleling it cross the plateau south to north, giving access to markets for agricultural produce first created when copper mines were opened in Zaire and Zambia in the 1920s. This led to European farming settlement, the building of small townships dominated by Indian shopkeepers, and cash cropping by Plateau Tonga. Since the completion of Kriba Hydroelectric Dam in 1958, much of the Zambezi plain and the lower reaches of its tributary rivers have been flooded by Kariba Lake. Over 54,000 Gwembe Tonga were displaced from the river plain to new habitats in the hills above Kariba Lake or in more arid country below Kariba Dam. They also became more accessible.

Demography. In 1980 Southern Province had an estimated population of 791,296, at an average density of 7.9 per square kilometer, some of whom were non-Tonga immigrants. Many Tonga have emigrated to Central Province since the 1940s in search of agricultural land or urban jobs. In 1969 Tonga speakers comprised slightly over 10 percent of the Zambian population; in the 1980s they probably numbered over 800,000. There were approximately 40,000 Tonga settled in Zimbabwe in the 1950s. Birthrates are high; the rate of population increase is around 2.8 percent per annum.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Tonga speak dialects of ciTonga, a Central Bantu language, along with other languages of central and northern Zambia and adjacent regions in Zaire. It was committed to writing by missionaries in the early twentieth century and today has a minute literature, but Tonga writers prefer to write in English, the official language of Zambia. The Central Plateau dialect is becoming the standard used in schools and for broadcasting.


History and Cultural Relations

Tonga oral history is local history of no great time depth. Archaeological sites on the southern plateau associated with the arrival of the Tonga from the northwest date from the twelfth century a.d. Although they were shifting cultivators who had cattle, they also relied on game and fish. Their crafts included pottery and ironwork; a few scraps of copper remain. There is little evidence of differences in status or of long-distance trade. Sites in northern Gwembe from much the same period have richer assemblages and may not have been Tonga sites. Finds from Ingombe Ilede indicate trade contacts with the Indian Ocean. Some fourteenth- and fifteenth-century graves contained trade beads and worked gold, copper, and bronze. Ingombe Ilede may have been an outpost of one of the Shona kingdoms. Shona speakers still live nearby. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries northern Gwembe was visited by Portuguese and Chikunda from Mozambique, who first sought ivory and slaves, and then settled. In general, the nineteenth century was a time of turmoil: Toka country was occupied for a few years by Makololo from southern Africa; in the last half of the century, Lozi raiders from the Upper Zambezi and Ndebele raiders from Zimbabwe harassed all of Tonga country, and the Lozi established hegemony among the Toka. In the 1890s the British South Africa Company had little difficulty in annexing Tonga country and administering it as part of the newly created Northern Rhodesia that, in 1923, was handed over to the British Colonial Office. Early administrators organized the country into districts and created a skeletal administration based on appointed village headmen. These headmen were grouped into chieftaincies under appointed chiefs, who were responsible to a district administrator. Much land was taken for European settlement. After 1923, native reserves were set aside and allocated to the three divisions into which Tonga were by then grouped, under councils called the Plateau Tonga, the Toka-Leya, and the Gwembe Tonga native authorities. Missions arrived at the beginning of the twentieth century. They established schools and, on the plateau, provided instruction in plow agriculture. The Plateau Tonga developed a cash-crop economy by the 1930s; the Toka, with poorer soils, and the Gwembe Tonga, cut off by the escarpment, continued to work as labor migrants, usually in Zimbabwe, until after Zambian independence in 1964. Independence removed restrictions on African access to employment and the use of lands reserved for European development.


Settlements

Plateau villages in the late nineteenth century were small clusters of round pole-and-mud huts with associated granaries and cattle pens, frequently housing a single extended family or a small number of kinsmen with their dependents, including slaves. Shifting cultivation encouraged the relocation of villages; these occasions provided the opportunity for dissidents to hive off. In the west, the placement of homesteads along long ridges to avoid floods led to larger aggregates. On the Zambezi plain, where alluvial soils permitted long-term cultivation, villages were stable and could contain up to 400 or 500 people. Early colonial administrators amalgamated small villages and required each village to have a minimum of 10 able-bodied male taxpayers, who had to build near their appointed headman. When these rules were relaxed in the 1950s, plateau villages were already somewhat stabilized by the placement of schools, by the planting of fruit trees, and by the construction of more permanent housing; nevertheless, villages rarely contained more than 300 people. Gwembe villages began to fragment after their relocation to the hills in 1958. Many Tonga now live in cities or in the small towns of the province, which are commercial and service centers for rural people.

Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Tonga were hoe cultivators whose staple crops were sorghums and millets until well into the twentieth century. Maize, cucurbits, groundnuts, ground peas, sweet potatoes, tobacco, and cannabis were additional crops. Livestock included cattle (in areas where tsetse flies were absent), goats, sheep, dogs, and chickens. Hunting, fishing, and gathering wild produce were important. Plow agriculture, using oxen, is now universal. Many Plateau Tonga have substantial farms of more than a hundred hectares, as well as large herds of cattle. Some own small tractors that they hire to neighbors. Maize has been the primary plateau crop since the 1930s, but farmers have also experimented with beans, cotton, and sunflowers. They began to keep pigs in the 1930s. The shift to plowing in much of Gwembe came in the late 1950s. Gwembe farmers raise maize, sorghums, bulrush millet, and, since the 1970s, cotton, now the main cash crop, which, like maize, is sold to governments depots. Income is also derived through the sale of cattle, goats, chickens, and out-of-season vegetables. Tobacco is no longer an important crop. Pigs were recently introduced. Hunting is now important only in some sections of Gwembe and on the western plateau. Commercial fisheries exist on the Kafue River and on Kariba Lake, where most fishers are immigrants. Rural diets continue to rely upon plants collected in the bush.

Industrial Arts. Crafts were part-time occupations despite being practiced by specialists, among them blacksmiths, woodworkers, potters, and basket makers. Work at a craft was validated by the belief that an ancestor required a given person to carry on the skill. Other specialists were diviners, herbalists, song makers, and hunters. Old crafts, in abeyance because of a preference for factory-made imports, were revived after the 1970s when the difficulty of transportation and the high cost of foreign goods made imports difficult to obtain. Production is now for the tourist trade as well as local use. New crafts include carpentry, brick making, auto repair, tailoring, and needlework.

Trade. Marketplaces and shops are twentieth-century phenomena; earlier, trade took the form of direct exchange based on equivalences. Marketplaces are located in townships, where women are prominent as traders. Shops exist both in townships and villages and usually have male owners. In the townships, shop owners are frequently Indians.

Division of Labor. Building houses, clearing fields, taking care of cattle, woodworking, blacksmithing, hunting, and most fishing are the responsibilities of men. They work in their own fields and usually do the plowing. They are hawkers and shop owners and work in a wide variety of paid jobs. Women are potters and basket makers. They do much of the agricultural work, gather wild produce, fish with baskets, process food, brew beer, care for small stock, do much transport, plaster huts, and provide most care of children. Increasingly, they plow. Some also work for wages, as shop assistants or house servants, but also in professional positions. Both men and women are ritual experts and both are politically active.

Land Tenure. Alluvial fields along the Zambezi were lineage property but were allocated to individual men and women. In general, rights in a field belonged to the person who cleared it and were transferable. Where shifting cultivation prevailed, land was not inherited. A man was expected to clear fields for himself and for each wife. Wives controlled the produce from their own fields, which they stored in their own granaries. The crop from the husband's field was his. Uncleared land is now scarce, and fields are kept in permanent cultivation. Sale of land in former reserve areas is prohibited, and land is obtained through loan, gift, or inheritance. Grazing areas are held in common. Claims to fishing and hunting grounds are now unimportant, except on Kariba Lake, where the government licenses kapenta (Limnothrissa miodon ) fishing outfits and assigns them sites along the lake. Land pressure has led to emigration. The emergence of a landless rural class is imminent. Already, smallholders hire themselves to farmers who need additional labor. Cultivators are also being dispossessed as government allocates large tracts to multinational agribusinesses in hopes of spurring production.


Kinship

Tonga belong to the clans and matrilineal descent groups of their mothers, although children also identify with their fathers and the descent groups of the latter. Residence is usually virilocal. The residential group, or homestead, usually consists of a man, his wife or wives, and their children. Sons may settle initially with their father but are likely to join other kin or establish their own homestead on the death or divorce of their parents. Descent groups disperse, but matrilineal kin assemble for funerals as long as common descent is remembered, and those living in proximity consult frequently. They inherit from each other and, in the past, formed a mutual defense and vengeance group. Residential units based on multilateral linkages, however important at any one time, are ephemeral. Continuity is created by the ties of matrilineal descent. Some fourteen clans exist. People with the same clan name are assumed to be related. Clanship provides a means of legitimating associations, which over time can be converted into kinship. The system of clan joking links clans for the provision of essential services at funerals and in some other tense situations.

Alternate generations are merged. Within-generation speakers refer to each other as senior or junior. On the plateau and in the Gwembe hills, Iroquois cousin terms are used. Plain dwellers use Crow cousin terms.

Marriage and Family

Marriage. Polygyny is common and may be increasing as farmers marry additional wives to obtain labor for expanded operations. Christians divide on whether monogamy is necessary. Childhood betrothal was abandoned by Plateau Tonga in the 1920s and by Gwembe Tonga in the 1950s. Cross cousins of both types were preferred spouses among Plateau Tonga and in the Gwembe hills, whereas Plains Tonga preferred marriage into the descent groups of their grandfathers. Most marriages linked people of the same village or neighborhood. Marriage today is usually initiated by elopement or when the woman is pregnant. Both damages and marriage payments are required, even in Christian marriages, and their value is steadily inflating. Young couples are initially attached to a relative's homestead; formerly, they did not have the right to their own cooking fire or to make beer for ancestral offerings until several years after marriage. A second wife may be attached to the household of the first wife for the probationary period; thereafter each wife is independent. Couples who begin married life in urban areas usually establish an independent household immediately. Divorce was and is common. Households headed by a single woman are increasingly common, although even early in the twentieth century some women chose to have children by lovers rather then accept a husband's domination. Couples do not hold property in common; upon divorce, each spouse retains his or her assets. Once equitable, this practice now places women at a disadvantage because the property they helped earn can be claimed by the husband. They also lose when widowed because the husband's assets are taken by his kin. Therefore, women try to build up their own assets, which they safeguard by sending to their own kin. Widows are ideally inherited by someone in the husband's descent group, but this practice is increasingly controversial, especially among Christians.

Domestic Unit. Each established wife or senior single woman is expected to cook for herself, her children, and other dependents and to send food to her husband. Women, girls, and very young boys of the homestead eat either together, sharing food, or separately, each woman eating alone with her children. Men and boys of the homestead eat together, sharing the food contributed by all the women. Each woman has her own dwelling. Monogamous women share the dwelling with their husbands; polygynous men move from wife to wife. Only unmarried men have their own houses. Co-wives have separate fields and separate granaries.

Inheritance. As the inheritance council held when the funeral ends, claims are canvassed. The father of the deceased, or his heir, can claim a share in stock and, today, money, but the bulk of the estate goes to matrilineal kin who appoint someone to become the guardian of the new spirit. This person is the primary heir, but stock and other possessions are distributed among a large number of claimants. The heir becomes the ritual parent of any children of the deceased and has claims upon their services and property, including marriage payments for daughters. In the past the preferred heir was of the same or alternate generation. Sons and daughters do not have the right to inherit, but in rural areas they may be given one or more head of cattle, and courts increasingly argue that those who work to increase the wealth of their father should benefit from that labor. Widows may be permitted to retain their fields but can be driven away if they refuse to be inherited.

Socialization. Infants and children are raised by parents and siblings, and frequently by other kin. Grandparents often care for children after divorce. Today children are exchanged between urban and rural areas to work for relatives or to attend school. Training in the past was oriented toward ensuring that children acquired skills essential to rural life; now families urge children to succeed at school so they can get good jobs and provide support to parents and siblings.

Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Tonga society was once strongly egalitarian despite differences in wealth and the existence of slavery. Slaves were incorporated into the descent group of the owner, and they or their descendants might then be chosen as spirit guardians. The colonial administration abolished slavery. Today few know whose ancestors were or were not slaves. Lineages claiming priority of settlement within a neighbor.hood were said to hold katongo in that area, which amounted to a right to provide custodians for local shrines and sometimes a right to receive a portion of game killed. In southern Gwembe, status differences were more apparent. Today status reflects success in exploiting new economic opportunities, including education. Teachers and others with technical training, along with shop owners and wealthier farmers, form an emerging rural elite.

Political Organization. The Republic of Zambia is a single-party state organized into provinces and districts with their own administrations. Districts are divided into wards, and these into branches and sections. Elected councillors provide the effective grassroots political organization and have replaced the chieftaincy/village hierarchy that was the backbone of the colonial administration. Chiefs and village headmen still exist, but headmen have few functions, and chiefs act primarily as land allocators and ceremonial heads. Political initiative flows from the central government. As much as possible, the Tonga maintain their independence by avoiding contact with authority except when it might work to their advantage-Prior to the colonial era, and even much later, political leadership was usually provided by "big-men," whose exercise of power did not create a permanent office. Hereditary political office was the exception. Usually the political community was the neighborhood, of perhaps a thousand people, whose name derived from a geographical feature. Political authority was shared by senior men and women who assembled to settle disputes and organize communal rituals. Neighborhood residents were expected to attend each other's funerals. They had to observe ritual restrictions associated with "the work of the neighborhood," which centered on the agricultural cycle. They came together at local shrines to appeal for rain. Neighborhoods are still important under the party organization. Branch and section councillors summon people for communal labor: repairing roads, building additions to the local school, and other community work. Gwembe neighborhoods also have drum teams that perform at local funerals and represent the neighborhood on ceremonial occasions.

Social Control. Homestead members were expected to settle their own differences. Neighborhood moots dealt with quarrels between descent groups or general issues. Direct action to enforce rights or redress injury was common, but crosscutting ties of kinship damped down the possibility for prolonged feuding. Gossip and the fear of sorcery were important mechanisms of social control. The colonial administration instituted chief's courts and delegated to headmen the right to settle village disputes. Messengers attached to the chief's court provided an embryonic police force, reinforced by district messengers under the authority of the district commissioner. In 1964 elected party officers took over adjudication at the neighborhood level, and local courts are no longer under the jurisdiction of chiefs. Courts are responsible to the Ministry of Justice, which appoints their members and regulates procedures. Courts are still expected to operate within customary law unless it clashes with national legislation. Police units, party vigilantes, and other representatives of the central government are constant reminders of the centralization of authority.

Conflict. In years of hunger, neighborhood once raided neighborhood to obtain food, and neighbor stole from neighbor. In the Zambezi plain, lineage members quarreled over the allocation of alluvial fields, and adjacent cultivators accused each other of moving boundary marks. When cattle or other stock invaded fields, damages were demanded. There were quarrels over adultery, the flight of wives, and failure to meet marriage payments. Deaths, illnesses, and other misfortune led to accusations of sorcery. Many of these grounds for conflict still exist, and theft of livestock has increased vastly, as has armed banditry along the roads. The availability of alcohol, since beer has become commercialized, has increased the amount of physical violence.


Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Tonga have been exposed to Christian missions of many denominations since the beginning of the twentieth century. More recently, they have been evangelized by Pentecostal and Apostolic groups originating in the towns. Churches exist in many neighborhoods. Many people consider themselves Christians, but they may also adhere to some aspects of earlier Tonga belief and practice.

The Tonga recognized the existence of a creator god, Leza, now identified with the Christian God but formerly not responsive to human appeals. Basangu are spirits concerned with the fate of neighborhood communities and sometimes with larger regions. Mizimo are the spirits of the dead, concerned with the affairs of their own kin. Adult men and women become mizimo after death. Mizimo of parents are the most important, but offerings are also made to any former member of the descent group, to siblings of the father, and to grandparents. Invading spirits, masabe, attack individuals, as do ghosts, zelo. In the twentieth century new masabe are frequently recognized; recent ones have been Angels, Negroes, and the Regiment. Many Christians say these, along with the spirits of the dead and the community spirits, are demons.

The world is basically good. Evil exists through the malice of human beings who try to obtain power to maximize their own interests by use of medicines. Suffering may also occur because of failure to deal correctly with spiritual forces.

Religious Practitioners. Adult men and women serve as officiants at offerings to their ancestors. Spirit guardians are appointed to make such offerings on behalf of the children and grandchildren of the deceased. Shrine custodians perform rituals at neighborhood shrines and first-fruit rituals at their homes. Spirit mediums and diviners discover the will of spirits. Many women and some men are subject to possession by masabe and, when treatment is completed, may treat others similarly afflicted. Since the 1970s, some Tonga have become heads of evolving cults. Witch finders, today based in the towns, provide a means of controlling sorcerers. Evangelists, pastors, and other Christian leaders are other religious figures.

Ceremonies. Christians attend church services, and Christmas and Easter are now days of feasting. Appeals for rain and community protection are held at local shrines, but such rites are now rare among Plateau Tonga. Mediums are consulted by neighborhood delegations to learn why communal spirits are angry and how to renegotiate relationships with them. The spirits may demand an offering of beer or the sacrifice of a chicken, goat, or cow, after which those attending share a communion meal. Men and women pour an offering of beer at the doorway of a dwelling or at a special spirit shrine in the doorway. The beer should be made from grain grown in the field of the supplicant. Possession by invading spirits is treated by holding the appropriate dance and drama, through which the demands of the spirit are enacted.

Arts. Wood carving, pottery, basketry and metalwork are utilitarian, although fine pieces are made. Beadwork was formerly elaborate, but beads are now scarce and styles have changed. Music is important: Gwembe Tonga pride themselves on their drum teams; musical instruments include several types of drums, antelope-horn flutes, rattles, hand pianos, musical bows, and crude xylophones. Guitars, homemade banjos or ukeleles, and accordions cater to new musical interests. Men compose elaborate songs describing personal adventures or embodying insulting comments toward others. Women compose lullabies, dirges, and other songs. Beer drinking is enlivened by dramatic dancing.

Medicine. Illness is attributed to the anger of ancestral spirits, sorcery, the misuse of medicines acquired for success, the use of a tabooed substance, or spirit invasion. Minor illnesses are considered normal. Treatment may involve driving out an invading ghost through fumigation, sucking out the intrusive object, cupping (drawing blood by suction), pacifying an indignant ancestor, or taming an invading alien spirit through a dance, as well as the use of medicines. Herbalists supplement the widespread knowledge of home remedies. Medicines are infused and drunk, rubbed into cuts, or used in fumigation. People also use Western medicine, dispensed by hospitals, local health centers, private doctors, and herbalists.

Death and Afterlife. Infants and small children are given abbreviated funerals, and their spirits return to their mother's womb to be reborn. Adults receive elaborate funerals in preparation for their return as ancestral spirits at the end of the funeral, when the chosen guardian is pointed out to the spirit. If possible, beer is poured in its honor, to which it summons fellow spirits, thereby becoming acceptable to them. Burial is immediate, and usually close to the dwelling of the deceased; some villages have established cemeteries. Formerly, bodies were buried in the fetal position; today they are laid at full length and, if possible, in a coffin. Christians attend and pray over the grave even if the deceased was not a Christian.


Bibliography

Colson, Elizabeth (1958). Marriage and the Family among the Plateau Tonga. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Colson, Elizabeth (1960). Social Organization of the Gwembe Tonga. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Colson, Elizabeth, and Thayer Scudder (1988). For Prayer and Profit: The Ritual, Economic, and Social Importance of Beer in Gwembe District, Zambia, 1950-1982. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.


Holy, Ladislas (1986). Strategies and Norms in a Changing Matrilineal Society: Descent, Succession, and Inheritance among the Toka of Zambia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Reynolds, Barry (1968). The Material Culture of the Peoples of the Gwembe Valley. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Scudder, Thayer (1962). The Ecology of the Gwembe Tonga. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Vickery, Kenneth (1986). Block and White in Southern Zambia: The Tonga Plateau Economy and British Imperialism, 1890-1939. New York: Greenwood Press.


ELIZABETH COLSON

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Tonga

PRONUNCIATION: TAWNG-guh
LOCATION: southern Zambia
POPULATION: 1,500,000
LANGUAGE: Chitonga
RELIGION: Christianity combined with indigenous religious beliefs
RELATED ARTICLES: Vol. 1: Bemba; Chewa; Zambians

INTRODUCTION

The Tonga live in southern Zambia in a corridor along the Zambezi River. The name “Tonga” is apparently a Shona term which means “independent,” a reference to the fact that the Tonga people were a people without chiefs before the era of colonization. While many other ethnic groups in southern Africa had developed centralized forms of political organization, the Tonga recognized no political leaders as chiefs and preferred to live in dispersed homesteads rather than in villages. The Tonga belong to the Bantu group of peoples, and evidence seems to indicate that they are descendants of the earlier Iron Age Bantu peoples who migrated to the southern parts of Zambia during the 15th and 16th centuries from the Congo area. Due to the fact that the Tonga were a chiefless society, many scholars argue that this reduced their power and influence in comparison to the Bemba and Chewa. Indeed, upon the arrival of colonial rule, the colonial administration appointed individuals of influence as local chiefs whom the Tonga jokingly referred to as “Government Chiefs.”

Although the Tonga are generally known as a chiefless society, there were some important people within Tonga society that wielded influence, such as the Sikatongo, a priest who made sure that the spirits took care of the people and made the crops grow. He could also cause rain, cure all diseases, and protect the people from all kinds of calamity. In every neighborhood (a grouping of several villages), there was also a man called the Ulanyika, the owner of the land. The Ulanyika was usually the first person to settle and live in the neighborhood. He commanded some influence in his neighborhood, and hunters gave him parts of every animal they killed within the surroundings of the neighborhood. Like all the peoples of Zambia, the Tonga came under British colonial rule at the end of the 19th century. Zambia gained independence in 1979 under the leadership of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who ruled Zambia until 1991 when he lost the presidency to Frederick Chiluba. After a two-term stint of five years each as president of Zambia, Chiluba was succeeded by President Levy Mwanawasa in 2001. Mwanawasa attempted to steer Zambia away from corruption that had become well entrenched during Chiluba's rule.

LOCATION AND HOMELAND

The Tonga are concentrated in southern Zambia along the Kafue and the middle Zambezi rivers. Most of the Tonga area has low-quality soil and erratic rainfall, which makes it less significant for agricultural purposes. The area is sparsely populated, except in the Gwembe Valley region of the middle Zambezi and areas along the Kafue River and the line of rail on the plateau. Most of the Tonga region is a plateau of high altitude ranging from 900 m to 1,500 m (3,000–5,000 ft) above sea level. Some areas of the plateau provide favorable environments for agricultural and pastoral living. The agricultural cycle is centered around a single rainy season which begins in November and ends in April. While on average the region gets about 65 cm to 90 cm (25–35 in) of rainfall per year, there have also been years of drought and years of flooding, with rainfall as low as 25 cm (10 in) and as high as 125 cm (50 in). In terms of population, the Tonga account for 15% of Zambia's total population, currently estimated at 11.5 million people.

LANGUAGE

Linguistically, the Tonga people are part of the Bantu language family. The Tonga language is known as Chitonga and has a substantial number of words that are similar in many respects to other Bantu languages such as Bemba, Chichewa, and Luyana. For example, “to write” in all three languages is kulemba; a chicken is known as a'nkoko in Bemba, nkuku in Luyana, nkhuku in Chichewa, and inkuku in Tonga; a traditional doctor in all four languages is called ng'anga.

FOLKLORE

The Tonga have no written history prior to their encounter with the British explorer David Livingstone in the early 1850s. Nevertheless, like many other peoples in Africa, they have a rich tradition of oral history and folklore. In almost all the villages, elders are the reservoirs of mythical stories. The stories, usually featuring animal characters, are narrated around a fire at night. They convey certain traditional principles, values and customs, and the origins of the Tonga people. One of the stories deals with the beginning of Tonga society. Contrary to popular belief that the Tonga are a chiefless society, local tradition suggests that there was once a powerful chief in the town of Monze before the arrival of the British. According to oral tradition, the first Monze chief descended from heaven and called the Tonga people, including those living outside of Tongaland proper, to join him and settle in his chiefdom centered around the present-day town of Monze. The chief was liked by most people because he had powers to heal, to cause rain, and to maintain peace by frustrating enemies through his communication with the ancestral spirits.

RELIGION

In traditional Tonga society, there is a well-developed cult of the “shades” or muzimu. It is believed that at death each person leaves a shade or spirit, a muzimu. The muzimu commutes between the spirit world and the world of humans. Usually the muzimu is integrated into society by selecting an individual within the lineage to inherit the muzimu at a special ritual. Witchcraft is also central to traditional beliefs in that there are some bad people and spirits in society who can cause great bodily harm to an individual through sorcery. However, many of the Tonga people have been converted to Christianity because of early mission influence and European settlement in Tongaland. Initially, there were only a few converts because the missionaries demanded complete renunciation of traditional beliefs such as polygamy, bride-wealth, ancestor worship, and witchcraft. Today, there are a substantial number of people who practice both Christianity and indigenous religious beliefs. Converts to Christianity merely add a new religion, while retaining their traditional beliefs.

MAJOR HOLIDAYS

The major national holiday in Zambia is Independence Day on 24 October. Zambia obtained its independence from Great Britain in 1964 on 24 October. During this day every year there are celebrations arranged in major urban areas and throughout the country. There is much drinking, dancing, and singing. In the afternoon, people congregate in stadiums to watch a game of soccer between major leagues, or to see the national team play a friendly match with a national team from a nearby country such as Malawi. In addition to Independence Day, Zambia also observes several other holidays (both secular and religious) which include: January 1, New Year's Day; Second Monday in March, Youth Day; March or April, Good Friday and Easter Monday; May 1, Labor Day; May 25, African Freedom Day; First Monday in July, Heroes' Day; First Tuesday in July, Unity Day; First Monday in August, Farmers' Day; December 25, Christmas Day; and December 26, Boxing Day.

RITES OF PASSAGE

Throughout Zambia today the law states that an individual becomes an adult at the age of 18. At this age an individual is allowed to vote and to drive a car. In most cases, no special ceremonies are performed to show that one has achieved adult status. In the past, most Zambian peoples had special initiation ceremonies and education for children as they attained puberty. The Tonga were no exception in this regard. However, the Tonga did not have an elaborate initiation ceremony such as Chisungu among the Bemba and Chinamwali among the Chewa. In the traditional setting, as a girl approached puberty she was trained for her future role as a man's wife. Usually, there was a period of seclusion during which a short ceremony was observed to mark the girl's maturity, and she was given a new name to signify her adult status.

In terms of marriage, the prospective husband had to pay bride-wealth to the family of the girl, usually in the form of cattle. A man could pay two cattle or some clothing to marry a girl. Although the Tonga are a matrilineal society, the preferred form of residence is patrilocal; in other words, the husband goes to the wife's village, gives presents, and brings the wife back to his village where they set up their own household. Polygamy was encouraged, but this practice is on the wane because of the influence of Christianity and a modern economic system. Highly educated individuals feel that polygamy is uneconomic.

When a child is born it is given an ancestral as a well as a Christian name, in the case of those who are Christians. A special naming ceremony may be held at which beer-drinking and dancing occur. In the old days, every baby was believed to be protected by one of its ancestral spirits. It was therefore necessary for the parents to give the baby the name of the right ancestor, which was divined by saying all the names of the ancestors to the baby until he or she cried. Whatever name the parents had spoken when the baby cried was that of the protecting ancestor, whose name the baby was then given.

Although the Tonga no longer have specific initiation ceremonies for boys and girls, there is a strong belief that children must be taught and trained for adult life, and that growing up is not a simple process of maturation. Throughout the process of growing up, children are taught proper manners by older people, including older children. During their teenage years, boys and girls are encouraged to do their separate chores according to sex roles; for example, girls' chores are to draw water from wells and fetch firewood, while boys hunt small game and fish. This is not to imply that these are always mutually exclusive tasks; there are instances when boys carry out girls' chores, and vice versa.

When death strikes, there are special rituals to be performed during burial and soon after burial to make sure that the “shade” or spirit of the dead person is reintegrated into society and does not cause harm to anybody. Devout Christians follow church dogma and sing Christian hymns and prayers at funerals.

INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS

Girls and boys who have not reached puberty are encouraged to play together. Since there is no specific instruction given on sexual matters, children are expected to acquire such information by casual observation and through experimentation on their own. People talk freely in the presence of children about sexual matters such as menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth. In the village setting, children are even allowed to be present at childbirth during labor but are excused when the baby is about to be born. Most parents feel that sexual play between children of the same age is not a matter for concern. However, an older man and/or woman is not expected to have sexual liaisons with a girl or boy below the age of puberty since it is believed to be detrimental to the health of both parties.

When a boy who has reached puberty decides to marry, he can find his own mate, but he must inform his uncles and parents to negotiate with the parents of the girl since bride-wealth must be paid. Cross-cousins of the same generation and age are in a joking relationship and may be addressed by spousal terms such as “my wife” or “my husband” and may cajole and harass each other without any recriminations. Boys sleep in the same room as their parents until age seven, when they move into their own hut. However, girls may continue to sleep in the same room as their parents until they reach puberty, or they may be allowed to sleep in the hut of an older woman, preferably a widow.

Generally, married women are expected to respect and cook for their husbands, and men are expected to take care of their wives. For example, when in the presence of men, a woman is expected to observe certain aspects of traditional female etiquette such as downcast eyes and servility. Women are also expected to dress modestly since any view of knees or thighs is thought to be an irresistible provocation. However, in urban areas many women have sought to retain their social autonomy and resist male dominance in numerous ways, such as staying single and earning a wage through a regular job or some type of home-based employment such as brewing beer.

LIVING CONDITIONS

The different circumstances of Tonga society such as short lineages, dispersed homesteads, the lack of chiefs, and their location along the line of rail from Zimbabwe to the copperbelt on soils suitable for agricultural production made it easy for the Tonga to participate fully in commercial agriculture during the colonial era. Due to the availability of a colonial market, the Tonga responded by intensifying and dramatically increasing their agricultural production. The Tonga were one of the few peoples to adopt agricultural innovations, such as ox-drawn plows and the use of fertilizer and hybrid seed, earlier on during the colonial period. Thus a relatively wealthy group of commercialized farmers among the Tonga emerged, and most Tonga chose to participate in agricultural activities rather than to migrate to the urban centers and the mines in the copperbelt. There also developed a series of smaller urban centers such as Monze, Livingstone, Makoli, Zimba, Kalomo, Mazabuka, etc., along the line of rail, which spawned a local urban elite in Tongaland. Today these urban Tonga consider themselves part of modern Zambia, the wealthy elite with modern consumption patterns such as a modern home and occasionally a car.

In rural areas, people live in isolated homesteads or villages with a few huts. In most cases, houses, granaries, and cattle kraals (corrals) are temporary structures which can be easily abandoned within a short period of 5 to 10 years. New sites can then be cleared and new structures raised. With the advent of commercial farming and a cash economy, some houses are of modern appearance, durable and nicely decorated. Roofing materials for such houses are corrugated iron sheets. Some of the Tonga live in small urban areas along the line of rail that passes through their territory. These are part of the sub-elite; they may own a well-stocked shop with modern goods such as sugar, tea, clothing, milk, etc. Just like in other parts of Zambia, tropical diseases such as malaria, bilharzia, intestinal worms, etc., are quite common among the Tonga.

FAMILY LIFE

Similar to many African societies, “family” among the Tonga refers to the wider extended unit rather than the nuclear family of wife, husband, and children. The extended family unit, much like a lineage or clan, cooperates in many ventures, such as farming and provision of food. In times of trouble, such as famine and drought, the extended family serves as a social safety net with members coming to each other's rescue. In most instances, a village may be a large extended-family unit composed of members that can trace descent from a common ancestress.

Marriage is a negotiation process between two families rather than an affair of two individuals. Marriage involves the transfer of bride-wealth from the groom's family to the bride's family. As noted earlier, although the Tonga follow the matrilineal system of kinship arrangement, the preferred form of residence is patrilocal where, after the payment of bride-wealth, the wife moves to the husband's village. In the traditional setting, bride-wealth is not considered a form of “buying” a wife; rather, it has three main functions. The first function is to serve as a legitimizing symbol of a marriage, much like a marriage certificate in the West. Secondly, it functions as insurance for the continued survival of the union. Both families have a vested interest in the survival of the marriage since, if divorce should occur and the wife is in the wrong, all the bride-wealth would have to be returned; or, in cases where the husband is at fault, his extended family would lose the bride-wealth after the breakup. The third function, common among patrilineal societies, is that bride-wealth serves as a mechanism to transfer any offspring from the union to the father's lineage so that in times of divorce all the children remain with the father. Bride-wealth apparently does not serve this function among the Tonga since children remain with the mother's lineage but are free to choose either to live with the father or the mother after divorce.

Bearing as many children as possible is the most important undertaking in a Tonga marriage since children are valued for their labor and social security in old age. While divorce is quite common among societies without bride-wealth, marriages in societies that pay bride-wealth are relatively stable. There is a general feeling these days that modern, urban life has brought increasing instability to the family and that the divorce rate is much higher than it used to be. As more girls spend more time in school, coupled with the breakdown of traditional morals in urban areas, many women are opting to be single, to break away from the shackles of traditionalism that put women in an inferior position, and to exercise their own autonomy. Polygamy, although still practiced in rural areas, is not as common as it used to be and is generally a thing of the past. However, there is a contemporary practice in urban areas where men keep mistresses or “girlfriends” outside the home, something which could easily be interpreted as men informally exercising their right to many wives. This kind of practice, however, only serves to increase the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

CLOTHING

Clothing among the Tonga is used to differentiate the sexes. As soon as the children begin to run about, girls are given a dress or a skirt, while boys are given a shirt and a pair of shorts. Children are taught that boys and girls wear different types of clothes, girls in dresses and boys in shorts and shirts; thus, dress marks the beginning of sex identification. But women in urban areas do wear pants and shirts just like their male counterparts, although the majority of women still prefer traditional women's clothing.

FOOD

Most of the area in which the Tonga live is rural, and the majority follow a subsistence way of life, growing maize as the main staple. Other traditional staple crops are millet and sorghum. The diet consists of inshima (thick porridge), taken together with a relish in the form of either meat and gravy or vegetables such as beans and pumpkin leaves. Typically a group of relatives eat from the same dish, using their fingers to break off a piece of inshima from the common dish and dip it in gravy before eating it. This diet is taken twice a day during the slack season, i.e., for lunch and dinner, and once a day during the agricultural season since the women are busy tending the field and have very little time to cook.

EDUCATION

Most parents send their children to a nearby primary school. Boys and girls begin their day by helping out with household chores, such as taking the cattle for a short grazing trip and/or going to draw water for the parents, in the morning before going to school. At school they learn a few basic subjects such as English, biology, and arithmetic. After 8 years of primary school, it is possible to be selected to attend a secondary school with forms 1 through 4, modeled on the British Ordinary Level General Certificate of Education. The subjects may include mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology, among others. The few lucky students who do extremely well in government exams are selected to attend the university, or different types of colleges.

In 1976, the government of Zambia made education free in the hopes that it would be accessible to the great majority of people. The end result has been a dramatic increase in literacy rates at the national level from a low of 10% at the time of independence in 1964 to 70% at present. Some parents, especially those living in urban areas, value education quite highly and have great aspirations for their children. This is not the case for people in rural areas where children's labor, rather than their education, is more critical to daily living.

CULTURAL HERITAGE

Music, dance, and literature are part and parcel of Tonga daily life. Stories that impart much-needed knowledge and principles to the young are narrated by grandfathers and grandmothers during the early hours of the evening around a fire. Each story might have several lessons for both the young and the old. The lessons could be as varied as how to act in a clever way, how to be imaginative, how to demonstrate intelligence to win the hand of a beautiful girl, the virtue of perseverance in bringing success, and appropriate behavior in certain situations. Drumming, singing, and dancing at beer parties, funerals, and naming ceremonies are a daily activity among the Tonga. At beer parties, men and women dance together in the open.

WORK

Urban elites in the few urban areas of Tongaland mostly find jobs in the government bureaucracy. Some find jobs as teachers, nurses, office clerks, or laborers on the railway. (During the colonial era, most of these positions were taken up by Europeans and Asians.) Others engage in petty trading such as selling fish, salt, sugar, and other basic commodities in open markets. But the majority of the Tonga people remain subsistence farmers who basically produce enough for the family and a little surplus to sell for money. Some of the local farmers who have adopted Western farming techniques have become relatively wealthy and are in a special class of their own. Livestock, such as cattle and goats, are another preoccupation for the Tonga. Such livestock provide a nutritious diet but are considered mainly to be a repository of wealth. Livestock such as cattle are also important in paying bride-wealth in times of marriage.

SPORTS

Even in the most remote parts of Tongaland, soccer (locally called football) is the favored sport for boys and young men. There is usually a makeshift soccer field in each village and whenever a ball is available, boys will play soccer continuously until they are very tired. School-going girls like to play netball, a game somewhat like basketball. In well-equipped secondary schools, boys and girls play games with which students in the West are familiar, such as tennis, badminton, and gymnastics. In rural areas, boys and girls will normally devise different games and play together when they have free time from household chores.

ENTERTAINMENT AND RECREATION

The most popular game among boys and girls that have not reached puberty is playing “house,” especially during the slack season when agricultural work is completed. Children build themselves ramshackle playhouses at the edge of the village and pretend they are adults, with girls taking the sex-roles of women, and boys the roles of men. Girls do the cooking and boys come to eat the food. This is part of growing up and socialization within the traditional setting.

Although game is rare, men still like to go out for hunting and fishing in the nearby woodlands and rivers, such as the Kafue and the Zambezi and the numerous tributaries of these rivers.

FOLK ART, CRAFTS, AND HOBBIES

Pottery, carvings, basketry, and mats are crafted by older men and women among the Tonga for use in their daily lives. For example, pots are made in different sizes to be used for drawing water, cooking, brewing beer, and storing grain and other foods.

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

At the time when Zambians were demanding independence from British colonial rule, one of the most prominent politicians in Zambia was Harry Nkumbula, a school teacher from Tongaland. He opposed colonial rule alongside prominent leaders such as Simon Kapwepwe and Kenneth Kaunda, both from the Bemba-speaking group. In time, Nkumbula lost favor with Kenneth Kaunda and Simon Kapwepwe and was sidelined in the new independent Zambia. Naturally, the Tonga were not pleased and Nkumbula continued to draw support from his ethnic group, which became a stronghold of anti-Kaunda sentiments. Although the government of Kaunda did not punish the Tonga openly, few of them were invited to join the national political establishment. Despite the ethnic animosities between the Tonga and the post-independence government leadership, however, human rights in Zambia have generally been better than in other African dictatorships.

GENDER ISSUES

In Zambia, like in many African countries, the participation of women in government and other gainful economic activities is still extremely low. For example, in the 2006 poll, elected women candidates accounted for less than 15%, despite women constituting the majority of voters. Girls are also marginalized in the educational system, with 11% of girls aged 15 to 24 illiterate compared with 8% of boys. However, the Zambian government is slowly moving in the right direction in as far as gender issues are concerned in the sense that a National Gender Policy and a bill on gender-based violence have been approved. These efforts will somewhat assist in helping to empower women and bridge the gender gap.

In traditional Tonga society a man is considered to be the head of the household/family. This is a role assigned to men who are viewed as natural leaders and decision makers at the household level, even in cases where men may not be knowledgeable. When a wife makes a decision within the home she is supposed to keep such a deviation from the norm secret. The low position of women in Tonga society is in contradiction to their matrilineal traditions in which women are supposed to command the high ground. The mix of patrilineal and matrilineal traits among the Tonga has resulted in women being subject to the disadvantages of each system without the benefits of either.

Although human rights in Zambia are enshrined in the constitution, and the Mwanawasa government has been credited with respecting the rule of law with regard to human rights, Zambia has a poor human rights record. It has been reported that the security forces routinely carry out unlawful killings, torture, beatings, and abuse of criminal suspects and detain-ees. Prison conditions are often very poor and life-threatening. Rallies by the political opposition have often been obstructed and violence against women and/or homosexual groups is quite common. As a matter of fact the first ever homosexual association to be formed in Zambia in 1998 (the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, and Transgender Association—LEGATRA) was immediately banned by the government soon after its formation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aldridge, Sally. The Peoples of Zambia. London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1978.

Clark, Sam, Elizabeth Colson, James Lee, et al. “Ten Th ousand Tonga: A Longitudinal Anthropological Study from Southern Zambia, 1956-1991.” Population Studies 49(1) (1995): 91-109.

Colson, Elizabeth. Marriage and the Family among the Plateau Tonga of Northern Rhodesia. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1958.

———. “Land Law and Land Holding among the Valley Tonga of Zambia.” Journal of Anthropological Research 42 (fall 1986): 261–68.

———. Social Organization of the Gwembe Tonga. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1960.

Irin News. “Zambia: Humanitarian Country Profile.” February 2007.

Kaplan, Irving. Zambia: A Country Study. Washington, DC: The American University, 1984.

Lancaster, Chet and Ken Vickery. The Tonga-Speaking People of Zambia and Zimbabwe: Essays in Honor of Elizabeth Colson. Lanham MD: University Press of America, 2007.

O'Brien, Dan. “Chiefs of Rain—Chiefs of Ruling: A Reinterpretation of Pre-Colonial Tonga (Zambia) Social and Political Structure.” Africa 53, no. 4 (1983): 23–42.

Saha, Santosh C. History of the Tonga Chiefs and Their People in the Monze District of Zambia. New York: Peter Lang, 1994.

Vickery, Kenneth P. Black and White in Southern Zambia: The Tonga Plateau Economy and British Imperialism, 1890–1939. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986.

—by E. Kalipeni

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Tonga

1 Location and Size

2 Topography

3 Climate

4 Plants and Animals

5 Environment

6 Population

7 Migration

8 Ethnic Groups

9 Languages

10 Religions

11 Transportation

12 History

13 Government

14 Political Parties

15 Judicial System

16 Armed Forces

17 Economy

18 Income

19 Industry

20 Labor

21 Agriculture

22 Domesticated Animals

23 Fishing

24 Forestry

25 Mining

26 Foreign Trade

27 Energy and Power

28 Social Development

29 Health

30 Housing

31 Education

32 Media

33 Tourism and Recreation

34 Famous Tongans

35 Bibliography

Kingdom of Tonga Pule’anga Tonga

CAPITAL: Nuku’alofa, Tongatapu

FLAG: The flag, adopted in 1862, is crimson with a cross of the same color mounted in a white square in the upper left corner.

ANTHEM: Koe Fasi Oe Tu’I Oe Otu Tonga (Tongan National Anthem) begins “’E ‘Otua Mafimafi Ko homau ‘Eiki Koe” (“O Almighty God above, Thou art our Lord and sure defense”).

MONETARY UNIT: The Tongan pa’anga (t$) of 100 seniti is a paper currency at par with the Australian dollar. There are coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 seniti, and 1 and 2 Tongan pa’angas, and notes of ½, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 pa’angas. t$1 = us$0.50720 (or us$1 = t$1.9716) as of 2004.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard, but some Imperial and local weights and measures also are employed.

HOLIDAYS: New Year’s Day, 1 January; ANZAC Day, 25 April; Crown Prince’s Birthday, 4 May; Independence Day, 4 June; King’s Birthday, 4 July; Constitution Day, 4 November; Tupou I Day, 4 December; Christmas, 25–26 December. Movable religious holidays include Good Friday and Easter Monday.

TIME: 1 am (the following day) = noon GMT.

1 Location and Size

The Tonga archipelago, also known as the Friendly islands, lies scattered east of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean. Consisting of 171 islands of various sizes, Tonga has a total area of 748 square kilometers (289 square miles), slightly more than four times the size of Washington, D.C. The total coastline is 419 kilometers (260 miles). Nuku’alofa, the capital, is located on the island of Tongatapu.

2 Topography

The islands run roughly north-south in two parallel chains; the western islands are volcanic and the eastern are coralline encircled by reefs. At 10,800 meters (35,400 feet) deep, the Tonga Trench is one of the lowest parts of the ocean floor.

The volcanic islands vary in height, with the highest elevation of 1,033 meters (3,389 feet) on Kao. Fonuafo’ou (formerly Falcon island), is famous for its periodic submergences and reappearances,

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Geographic Features

Area: 748 sq km (289 sq mi)

Size ranking: 174 of 194

Highest elevation: 1,033 meters (3,389 feet) at an unnamed location on Kao island

Lowest elevation: Sea level at the Pacific Ocean

Land Use*

Arable land: 20%

Permanent crops: 15%

Other: 65%

Weather**

Average annual precipitation: 178 centimeters (70 inches)

Average temperature in January: 32°c (90°f)

Average temperature in July: 10°c (50°f)

* Arable Land: Land used for temporary crops, like meadows for mowing or pasture, gardens, and greenhouses.

Permanent crops: Land cultivated with crops that occupy its use for long periods, such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, fruit and nut orchards, and vineyards.

Other: Any land not specified, Including built-on areas, roads, and barren land.

** The measurements for precipitation and average temperatures were taken at weather stations closest to the country’s largest city.

Precipitation and average temperature can vary significantly within a country, due to factors such as latitude, altitude, coastal proximity, and wind patterns.

as a result of earthquakes and volcanic action. There are few lakes or streams. Tofua, Vava’u, Nomuka, and Niuafo’ou each have a lake, and there are creeks on ‘Eua and one stream on Niuatoputapu. Other islands rely on wells and the storage of rainwater to maintain a water supply.

3 Climate

The mean annual temperature is 23°c (73°f), ranging from an average daily minimum of 10°c (50°f) in winter to an average maximum of 32°c (90°f) in summer. Mean annual rainfall ranges from 160 centimeters (63 inches) on Tongatapu to 221 centimeters (87 inches) on Vava’u. The mean relative humidity is 80%.

4 Plants and Animals

Coconut palms, hibiscus, and other tropical trees, bushes, and flowers are plentiful. Tonga is famous for its flying foxes.

5 Environment

The forest area is declining because of land clearing and attempts at reforestation have had limited success. Water pollution is also a significant problem due to salinization, sewage, and toxic chemicals from farming activities. The impurity of the water supply contributes to the spread of disease. The nation is also vulnerable to cyclones, flooding, earthquakes, and drought.

There has been some damage to the nation’s coral reefs from starfish and from coral and shell collectors. As of 2006, there were two types of mammals, three species of birds, and three species of plants that were considered threatened. The Fiji banded iguana, and the loggerhead, green sea, and hawksbill turtles are threatened. Overhunting threatens the native sea turtle populations. The Tonga ground skink has become extinct.

6 Population

The 2005 population was estimated by the United Nations at 102,000. There is an estimated population density of about 142 Inhabitants per square kilometer (367 per square mile). Nuku’alofa, the capital, had an estimated population of 35,000 in 2005.

7 Migration

There is considerable movement toward the larger towns as population pressure on agricultural land increases. Some non-Tongans born on the islands migrate to Fiji and New Zealand. Emigration by Tongan workers, both skilled and unskilled, has long been of concern to the government. In 1989, approximately 39,400 Tongans lived in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. There are Tongan communities in Brisbane and Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), San Francisco (United States), and on Hawaii. Immigrant settlement is not encouraged because of the land shortage. There were an estimated 2,000 migrants in Tonga in the year 2000. The estimated net migration rate in 2005 was zero.

8 Ethnic Groups

The Tongans are a racially uniform Polynesian people. Less than 2% of the population is of European, part-European, Chinese, or non-Tongan Pacific Island origin.

9 Languages

Tongan, a Polynesian language, is the language of the kingdom, but government publications are issued in both Tongan and English, and English is taught as a second language in the schools.

10 Religions

Over 98% of Tongans are Christian. According to the 1996 census, 41% of the population were members of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist) and 16% are Roman Catholics. About 12% are of the Free Church of Tonga. There are small groups of the Baha’is, Muslims, and Hindus.

11 Transportation

In 2002, Tonga had 680 kilometers (423 miles) of roadways. Tonga has no railways. Nuku’alofa is a port of entry for overseas vessels. In 2005, the merchant fleet consisted of 29 ships, with a total of 136,977 gross registered tons.

Air Pacific, Air New Zealand, Polynesian Airlines, and Hawaiian Air operate scheduled international flights from Fua’Amotu international Airport at Tongatapu. In 2001, 56,800 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

12 History

Since the Tongan language was not written down until the 19th century, the early history of Tonga (which means “south”) is based on oral tradition. Hereditary absolute kings (Tu’I Tonga) date back to the 10th century. The present dynasty was founded in the mid-19th century.

Captain James Cook visited the Tongatapu and Ha’apai groups in 1773 and again in 1777. It was in the waters of the Ha’apai group that the famous mutiny on the British ship Bounty occurred in 1789.

The first Wesleyan missionaries landed in Tonga in 1826. By the middle of the century, most Tongans had become Christians, the great majority being Wesleyans. The kingdom became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 under George Tupou I (reigned 1845–93).

In 1900, a treaty of friendship was signed with the United Kingdom, and the islands became a British protectorate. During World War II (1939–45), Tongan soldiers fought the Japanese in the Solomon islands, and Tongatapu served as an Important Allied shipping point.

On 4 June 1970, Tonga became an independent member of the Commonwealth of Nations. In 1972, Tonga claimed the uninhabited Minerva Reefs (southwest of Africa) to prevent the founding of an independent Republic of Minerva as a tax haven.

Many of the government’s strongest critics gained seats in the 1987 legislative elections. The large turnover was thought to reflect changing attitudes toward traditional authority. A government scandal over selling Tongan passports to Hong Kong Chinese led to popular support of the opposition. In the 1993 general election, the pro-democracy People’s Democratic Movement won six of nine seats, which were retained in the 1996 election. Religious leaders have joined in the protest for greater democracy in recent years.

Parliamentary elections were held in March 1999 and resulted in the lowest voter turnout in history. Prince Lavaka Ata Ulukalala took office as prime minister in 2000.

Tonga experienced a financial scandal in 2001, when the king’s official court jester, an American businessman, Invested $26 million in a government trust fund that later disappeared. The $26 million represented more than half the government’s annual budget.

In October 2005, parliament voted to establish the National Committee of the Kingdom of Tonga for Political Reforms, with the goal of examining and Improving Tonga’s form of government.

On 15 December 2005, after 10 years of membership talks, Tonga became the 150th member of the World Trade Organization. As part of its accession agreement, Tonga agreed to cut its Import tariffs and to open many of its vital services to foreign companies.

13 Government

Tonga is an independent kingdom. The government is divided into three branches: the executive, consisting of the king, Privy Council, and cabinet; the 36 Legislative Assembly; and the judiciary. The prime minister is appointed for a life term. The islands are divided into three districts: Vava’u, Ha’apai, and Tongatapu.

14 Political Parties

The Tonga People’s Party, led by Vilami Fukofuka, and the pro-democracy Human Rights and Democracy Movements, led by ‘Akilisi Pohiva, were the principal political parties active in 2003.

15 Judicial System

The Supreme Court rules on major civil and criminal cases. Other cases, heard in the Magistrates’ Court or the Land Court, may be appealed to the Supreme Court and then to the Court of Appeal, the court of last resort. Criminal defendants are afforded the right to counsel and the right to a fair public trial is protected by law and

BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Name: His Majesty King Taufa’ahau Tupou V

Position: King of a hereditary constitutional monarchy

Took Office: 11 September 2006

Birthdate: 4 May 1948

Religion: Methodist

Education: King’s College, Auckland, New Zealand, and Oxford University in England.

Spouse: Never married

Children: One daughter, Ilima Lei Tohi

Of interest: Tupou IV, Tupou V’s father, was the first Tongan citizen to receive a university degree. Tupou V’s formal coronation was scheduled for 1 August 2008, following the mourning period for his father.

honored in practice. The king may commute a death sentence.

16 Armed Forces

The Tonga Defense Force consists of regular forces and volunteer reservists. Forces are organized into marines, royal guards, a navy, a police force, and a newly created air wing. A naval squadron consisting of several fast patrol boats polices territorial waters.

17 Economy

The economy is largely agricultural, depending principally on the export of squash, copra and other coconut products, bananas, and vanilla bean extract. The main source of foreign exchange, however, is tourism. Unemployment and inflation are major problems. The gross

Yearly Growth Rate

This economic indicator tells by what percent the economy has increased or decreased when compared with the previous year.

domestic product growth rate stood at 1.9% in 2003.

18 Income

In 2005, Tonga’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $224 million, or about $2,300 per person. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1% in that year. The average inflation rate in 2002 was 10.3%.

19 Industry

Encouragement of new industries was a goal of Tonga’s eight five-year plans (1966–2006). Long-established industries are coconut processing, sawmilling, and local handicrafts. Other industries include the manufacture of concrete blocks, metal products, woolen knitwear, leather goods, furniture, soft drinks, soap, sports equipment, yachts, and paint. Refrigerators, jewelry, bicycles, toys, furniture, wheelbarrows, mini-excavators, and other consumer goods are assembled for use locally and in neighboring countries.

A small but growing construction sector developed in response to the inflow of relief monies following Cyclone Waka, which hit during the last two days of 2001.

20 Labor

The total wage labor force in 1996, the last year reported, was 33,910. As of 1997, approximately 65% of the workforce engaged in agriculture. The unemployment rate that year was 13.3%. As of 2002, no unions had been formed. There is no child labor in Tonga. There is no set minimum wage.

21 Agriculture

About 35% of Tonga is agricultural land. Principal subsistence crops are yams, taro, sweet potatoes, and manioc. Estimated production in 2004 Included 58,000 tons of coconuts, 6,000 tons of sweet potatoes, 9,000 tons of cassava, 1,000 tons of oranges, and 700 tons of bananas. Vanilla beans have become an Important cash crop, especially on Vava’u. Agricultural products accounted for 45% of exports in 2004.

22 Domesticated Animals

Beef cattle are generally kept for grazing in coconut plantations to keep the undergrowth in check and to provide additional income. Every householder has several hogs, which generally are not sold but are used for feasts. Sheep were brought into Tonga in 1954 but did not thrive and, in 1956, the entire flock was slaughtered.

Components of the Economy

This pie chart shows how much of the country’s economy is devoted to agriculture (including forestry, hunting, and fishing), industry, or services.

Livestock in 2005 included 81,000 hogs, 12,500 goats, 11,400 horses, and 11,250 head of cattle.

23 Fishing

Fish are abundant in the coastal waters, but the fishing industry is relatively undeveloped and the supply of fish is insufficient to meet local demand. Principal species caught are tuna and marlin. In 2003, the fish catch was 4,458 tons. Exports of fish products were valued at almost $3.6 million that year.

24 Forestry

Forestland covers about 5.5% of Tonga’s total area, mainly on ‘Eua and Vava’u, but this diminishing resource has not been efficiently exploited and much wood for construction must be Imported. Roundwood production in 2004 was 2,100 cubic meters (74,000 cubic feet). Charcoal is manufactured from logs and coconut shells.

25 Mining

Tonga has few known mineral resources. A limited amount of crushed stone is produced at local quarries.

26 Foreign Trade

Tonga’s chief exports are vegetables, including squash. Other exports include fish, spices and vanilla, and shellfish. Tonga Imports industrial supplies, consumer goods, machinery, food, transportation equipment, and fuels.

Tonga’s main trading partners are Japan, China, New Zealand, Fiji, Taiwan, Australia, and the United States.

27 Energy and Power

All power is derived from thermal sources. Electricity production in 2002 totaled 0.03 billion kilowatt hours.

28 Social Development

Every family is provided by law with sufficient land to support itself. There is no social welfare department; the medical and education departments and missions provide what welfare services are available. Polynesian cultural traditions have kept most women in subservient roles. Inheritance laws discriminate against women, and women may not own land.

29 Health

Tongans receive free medical and dental treatment. Non-Tongans are charged on a fixed scale. There are 4 hospitals and 14 health care centers

Yearly Balance of Trade

The balance of trade is the difference between what a country sells to other countries (its exports) and what it buys (its imports). If a country imports more than it exports, it has a negative balance of trade (a trade deficit). If exports exceed imports there is a positive balance of trade (a trade surplus).

on the islands. In 2004, Tonga had 34 physicians for every 100,000 people.

Tonga is free of malaria and most tropical diseases, but tuberculosis, filariasis, typhoid fever, dysentery, and various eye and skin diseases remain common health problems. There were 12 reported cases of acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1999, with 8 resulting in death from the disease. Life expectancy as of 2005 was estimated at 69.8 years and infant mortality was estimated at 12.6 per 1,000 live births.

Village houses usually have reed sides and a sloping roof thatched with sugarcane or coconut

Selected Social Indicators

The statistics below are the most recent estimates available as of 2006. For comparison purposes, data for the United States and averages for low-income countries and high-income countries are also given. About 15% of the world’s 6.5 billion people live in high-income countries, while 37% live in low-income countries.

IndicatorTonga Low-income countriesHigh-income countriesUnited States
sources: World Bank. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 2006; Central intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2006; World Resources institute, Washington, D.C.
Per capita gross national income (GNI)*$7,850 $2,258$31,009$39,820
Population growth rate2.0% 2%0.8%1.2%
People per square kilometer of land142 803032
Life expectancy in years: male67 587675
female72 608280
Number of physicians per 1,000 people0.3 0.43.72.3
Number of pupils per teacher (primary school)22 431615
Literacy rate (15 years and older)98.5% 65%>95%99%
Television sets per 1,000 people70 84735938
Internet users per 1,000 people29 28538630
Energy consumed per capita (kg of oil equivalent)n.a. 5015,4107,843
CO2 emissions per capita (metric tons)1.05 0.8512.9719.92
* The GNI is the total of all goods and services produced by the residents of a country in a year. The per capita GNI is calculated by dividing a country’s GNI by its population and adjusting for relative purchasing power.
n.a.: data not available >: greater than <: less than

leaves. Modern houses are built of wood, with roofs of corrugated iron.

31 Education

Primary education is compulsory for six years for all Tongans. No tuition is charged at government schools (except the high school), but small fees are charged at mission schools. The student-to-teacher ratio at the primary level averaged 22 to 1 in 2003. Primary school enrollment in 2000 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 72.8% of age-eligible students. Elementary instruction is given in the Tongan language; English is also taught.

A teacher-training college, established in 1944, provides a two-year course. A government scholarship program provides the opportunity for Tongan students to pursue higher education abroad. Adult literacy is estimated at 98.5%.

32 Media

As of 2002, there were an estimated 11,200 mainline telephones in use and 9,000 cellular phones. As of 2001, there were four radio stations and three television stations. In 2003, Tonga had 600 radios and 70 televisions in use per 1,000 population. In 2000, there were 2 Internet providers serving 1,000 subscribers.

The weekly newspaper, the Tonga Chronicle, had an average circulation (In 2002) of 7,000

copies in Tongan and English. There are also church newspapers issued by missions and a few private publications printed at regular intervals.

33 Tourism and Recreation

Popular tourist sites are the royal palace and terraced tombs in Nuku’alofa. Fishing, swimming, and sailing are popular, and rugby football is a favorite spectator sport. In 2003, there were 40,110 tourist arrivals, with 57% of travelers coming from Australia and New Zealand.

34 Famous Tongans

During the reign of King George Tupou I (Taufa’ahau Tupou, 1797–1893), Tonga became a Christian nation, abolished serfdom, and acquired a constitution. His prime minister, Shirley Waldemar Baker (1831–1903), was a Wesleyan clergyman who, after being deposed in 1890, became an Episcopal minister and then returned to Tonga. The most famous Tongan of the 20th century was Queen Salote Tupou (1900–1965), whose rule began in 1918. Queen Salote’s son, King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV (1918–2006), took the throne in 1965 and was formally crowned in 1967.

35 Bibliography

BOOKS

Bain, Kenneth. The New Friendly Islanders: The Tonga of King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1993.

Fletcher, Matt. Tonga. London: Lonely Planet, 2001.

Horwitz, Tony. Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before. New York: Picador, 2003.

Stanley, David. Tonga-Samoa Handbook. Emeryville, CA: Moon Publications, 1999.

WEB SITES

Commonwealth Country Profi les. www.thecommonwealth.org/Templates/YearbookHomeInternal.asp?NodeID=139329. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Country Pages. www.state.gov/p/eap/ci/tn/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).

Government Home Page. www.pmo.gov.to/. (accessed on January 15, 2007).