- A small South Pacific set of 150 islands, about 35 of them inhabited, between Samoa and New Zealand, and 400 miles east of Fiji.
- Three major island groups: Tongatapu, Ha`apai, and Vava`u.
- A total population of approximately 110,000 people.
- A large Tongan diaspora; more Tongans live outside of Tonga concentrating mainly in the USA, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and Fiji.
Government and Religion
- A devout Christian nation, never colonized by a foreign power.
- The only remaining Polynesian Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy.
- Recently went through a democratic reform. The King gave up certain powers to the people.
- The Prime Minister, leader of the government, is now elected by the people through the parliament, not appointed by the King. Politics is more intense today.
- National Motto: God and Tonga are My Inheritance.
- Churches with a strong presence in Tonga: Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga and several splinter congregations, The Free Church of Tonga,
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic Church, The Church of Tonga, Seventh Day Adventists.
Culture and History
- Although in ancient times, Tongans were extremely fierce and formidable warriors, Tongans like to define themselves by the qualities of respect (anga faka`apa`apa), keeping up good neighborly relations (tauhi vaha`a), love and hospitality (anga`ofa), zealousness and enthusiasm for a good cause (mamahi`i me`a), and a ready and willing mind (loto to).
- A fertile soil and rich abundance of food; no one starves, no one is cold, no one is abandoned. Tongan families care for their aged.
- Profound respect for the royal family, nobility, and church ministers.
- Honor the tradition that the first King, George Tupou I, in 1839, gave his kingdom to God: the people, the land, the flora and fauna. Tongans believe this act helped Tonga escape colonization and brought about the eventual peace the country experiences today.
Education, National Income, Medicine
- People highly literate in their own language; nearly 100% read and write Tongan.
- Most high schools are church-sponsored in Tonga.
- Tonga is very poor by world standards. High jobless rate. Lots of subsistence farming. Sources of wealth include: foreign aid, remittances from families abroad, and domestic income. Each of these constitutes about one third of the wealth in Tonga. Economically isolated.
- Socialized medicine. Government struggles to deliver even basic medical services.