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.