Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
(pronounced "TOW-fa-ah-how TOO-po")
"It is difficult for anybody to know what will happen in the future, but there are problems because it is difficult to control a democratic government."
The Kingdom of Tonga is a small Polynesian kingdom located in the central South Pacific consisting of 160 islands with a total land area of 748 sq km (289 sq mi). Tonga's neighbors include Samoa to the north, Fiji to the northwest, and New Zealand to the south. Recent archaeological evidence indicates that the Tongans were associated with a lapita (a type of pottery) culture group originating out of Southeast Asia. Slowly migrating eastward through Melanesia, these peoples settled in Tonga around 1000 BC. Contemporary Tongan society, often characterized as deeply religious and traditionally conservative, is largely composed of semi-subsistent farmers and noble elite. Tonga's population was estimated at 106,137 in 2002. Approximately 95% of the population are practicing Christians. The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) averages about US $2,200 (2000 estimate). The unit of currency is the pa'anga.
As in all Polynesian cultures, kinship and collectivism predominate. Even today, groups based on kinship are often formed to carry out activities. Similarly, many valued possessions are corporately owned. Women command a strong position in Tongan society, and many tasks are shared between the sexes.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Tongan economy. Nearly 50% of the GDP and more than 60% of the active wage labor force originate in this sector. Although manufacturing and tourism are on the increase, partly due to government efforts to diversify the economic base, the bulk of Tongan exports are agricultural. These include copra, coconut oil, bananas, melons, vanilla beans, and vegetables.
PO Box 6