Kingdom of 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 1 / 2 , 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 pa'angas. T $1 = US $0.4926 (or US $1 = T $2.03; in March 2003).
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.
Coconut palms, hibiscus, and other tropical trees, bushes, and flowers are abundant. Tonga is famous for its flying foxes.
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.
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.
The Tonga People's Party (TPP), led by Viliami Fukofuka, and the pro-democracy Human Rights and Democracy Movements, led by Akilis Pohiva's were the principal political parties active in 2003.
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.
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 2001 included 81,000 hogs, 12,500 goats, 11,400 horses, and 11,250 head of cattle.
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 3,531 tons in 2000; exports of fish products were valued at almost $3.45 million that year.
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 2000 was 2,000 cu m (70,600 cu ft). There is a government sawmill on Eua. Charcoal is manufactured from logs and coconut shells.
Tonga had few known mineral resources. A limited amount of crushed stone is produced at local quarries.
All power is derived from thermal sources. Installed capacity in 2001 was about 7,000 kW; electricity production in 2000 totaled 30 million kWh. Consumption of electricity in 2000 was 27.9 million kWh. Oil has been discovered through seepage into water wells, but test wells have been unproductive.
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.
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.
Income tax is levied at progressive rates. Resident businesses pay 15% on profits up to $100,000, and 30% thereafter. Non-resident 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.
Tonga has no territories or colonies.
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Bott, Elizabeth. Tongan Society at the Time of Captain Cook's Visit: Discussions with Her Majesty Queen Salote Tupou. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1982.
Cook, James. The Explorations of Captain James Cook in the Pacific, as Told by Selections of His Own Journals, 1768–1779. New York: Heritage, 1958.
Ellem, Elizabeth W. Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era 1900–1965. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press, 1999.
Ferdon, Edwin N. Early Tonga: As the Explorers Saw It, 1616– 1810. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987.
Gailey, Christine Ward. Kinship to Kingship: Gender Hierarchy and State Formation in the Tongan Islands. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1987.
Lawson, Stephanie. Tradition Versus Democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga, and Western Samoa . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
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Stanley, David. Tonga-Samoa Handbook. Emeryville, Calif.: Moon Publications, 1999.