Category:   World Travel Directory  :  Oceania  :  Tonga
The Kingdom of Tonga in the south Pacific Ocean is an archipelago of 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, stretching over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 miles) in a north-south line. The islands lie south of Samoa, about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii.

Tonga, the only sovereign monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, has the distinction of being the only island nation in the region to have avoided formal colonization.

The world also knows the islands of Tonga as the Friendly Islands because of the friendly reception accorded to Captain Cook on his first visit in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ?inasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tu'i Tonga, the islands' paramount chief, and was invited to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, in reality the chiefs had wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but were unable to agree on a plan.

In many Polynesian languages the word "Tonga" means "South". The name Tonga was derived from the word "Tongahahake" translations "Southeast", originally means "The wind that blows from the Southeast". Source

Tonga Facts

Population: 112 thousand

Capital: Naku’alofa

Currency: Pa’anga

Area: 748 km2

Language: Tongan, English

Main Religion: Christian

Calling Code: +676

Time Zone: GMT + 13

Main Cities: Nuku’alofa, Neiafu, Havelu, Vaini, Pangai, ‘Ohonua, Hihifo