Tonga



Official name: Kingdom of Tonga

Area: 748 square kilometers (289 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Kao Island (1,033 meters/3,389 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Western

Time zone: 1 A.M. (the following day) = noon GMT

Longest distances: 631 kilometers (392 miles) from north-northeast to south-southwest; 209 kilometers (130 miles) from east-southeast to west-northwest

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 419 kilometers (260 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)

1 LOCATION AND SIZE

Tonga, also known as the Friendly Islands, is an archipelago consisting of 171 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Tonga is about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii. The nearest island groups are the Nieu Islands to the east, the Kermadec Islands to the south, Fiji to the west, and Wallis and Futuna to the north. Tonga's area of 748 square kilometers (289 square miles) is just over four times that of Washington, D.C.

2 TERRITORIES AND DEPENDENCIES

Tonga has no territories or dependencies.

3 CLIMATE

Most of Tonga is far enough from the equator to have a pleasant subtropical climate moderated by trade winds. There are only two real seasons: the warmer season, from December to May, and the cooler season from May to December. Temperatures range from 16°C to 21°C (60°F to 70°F) in the coolest months of June and July, and average 27°C (80°F) in December, the hottest month.

Rainfall and humidity increase from south to north. Average annual rainfall ranges from 160 centimeters (63 inches) in Tongatapu, to 221 centimeters (87 inches) in Vava'u, to 257 centimeters (101 inches) in Niuatoputapu.

4 TOPOGRAPHIC REGIONS

From north to south, the islands are clustered in three major groups: Vava'u to the north, Ha'apai in the middle, and Tongatapu to the south. There is also a smaller, more remote group, called the Niuas, situated farther north, as well as individual islands both to the north and south.

Tonga's islands are the tops of submerged volcanoes, four of which are still active on the islands of Tofua and Niuafo'ou. The islands of all the groups, from north to south, align into two parallel rows. Those in the western row are purely volcanic in origin; those in the eastern row consist of submerged volcanoes capped by coral and limestone formations.

5 OCEANS AND SEAS

Tonga is located in the South Pacific Ocean.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

The South Pacific Ocean surrounding Tonga is very seismically active. The region's continuing seismic activity created a new island, called Metis Shoal, in 1995. The long underwater channel called the Tonga Trench is 10,800 meters (35,400 feet) deep. The trench, which reaches from Tonga to New Zealand, has one of the greatest ocean depths in the world. Several of Tonga's islands are formed from coral reefs, and there are many other submerged reefs in the surrounding waters, including the Minerva Reefs at the islands' southern end.

Sea Inlets and Straits

The Piha Passage separates the main island of the Tongatapu group from the smaller islands to its northeast.

Islands and Archipelagos

The northernmost island group, Vava'u, has thirty-four islands; the Ha'apai group in the middle has thirty-six. The Tongatapu group to the south is composed of the island of Tongatapu, one other major island ('Eua), two much smaller ones, and a number of reefs. With an area of 256 square kilometers (99 square miles), Tongatapu is the largest single island and the site of the kingdom's capital.

Coastal Features

Tonga has many white sandy beaches and magnificent swimming, diving, and snorkeling locations.

6 INLAND LAKES

There are lakes on the islands of Vava'u, Nomuka, Tofua, and Niuafo'ou, some of which have waters that are very good for swimming, but none of which are of significant size.

DID YOU KNOW?

Because it is immediately west of the International Dateline, Tonga is the first nation to greet each new day, leading to the saying "Tonga is where time begins." Tourists flocked to the islands on December 31, 1999, to be among the first to greet the new millennium.

7 RIVERS AND WATERFALLS

Tonga has no rivers. The island of 'Eua has creeks, and there is a single stream on Niuatoputapu.

8 DESERTS

There are no deserts in Tonga.

9 FLAT AND ROLLING TERRAIN

Hills rising to elevations between 152 and 305 kilometers (500 and 1,000 feet) are found on islands in the Vava'u group.

10 MOUNTAINS AND VOLCANOES

Tonga's highest point is on Kao Island, in the central Ha'apai group, at an altitude of 1,033 meters (3,389 feet). A volcanic ridge on the island of 'Eua, the second-largest island in the Tongatapu group, rises to 329 meters (1,078 feet).

11 CANYONS AND CAVES

The island of 'Eua, in the Tongatapu group, has numerous limestone caves and sinkholes, and there are also caves in the Ha'apai and Vava'u island groups.

12 PLATEAUS AND MONOLITHS

Tonga has no plateaus and no significant monoliths.

13 MAN-MADE FEATURES

A mammoth thirteenth-century stone monument called the Ha'amonga'a Maui Trilithon is located at the easternmost end of the island of Tongatapu. There are also more than two dozen pyramid-shaped stone burial tombs on the island of Mu'a.

14 FURTHER READING

Books

Ellem, Elizabeth Wood. Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era 1900-1965 . Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press, 1999.

Fletcher, Matt, and Nancy Keller. Tonga . London: Lonely Planet, 2001.

Rutherford, Noel, ed. Friendly Islands: A History of Tonga . New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

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

Web Sites

Lonely Planet: Destination Tonga. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/pacific/tonga/ (accessed April 11, 2003).

Tonga: The Kingdom of Ancient Polynesia . http://www.vacations.tvb.gov.to/index.htm (accessed April 11, 2003).



Also read article about Tonga from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

1
Jon
Report this comment as inappropriate
Aug 27, 2015 @ 4:04 am
At point 9 above there is a major typo.

You have the height of a hill at 152 to 305 kilometres.

You probably mean 305 metres. 305 kilometres translates to around 1 million feet, and isn't that far below the orbit of the space station.

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