Tonga Country Overview

Tonga Country Overview


The Tonga islands consist of two island chains running parallel in a north-south direction for more than 800 km on two submarine ridges (Tofua and Tonga ridges) west of the Tonga Trench. The western row is of volcanic origin (with partly still active volcanoes (Mount Kao 1,030 m above sea level), the eastern row is formed from partly raised coral islands (on Tongatapu up to over 60 m above sea level). 1979 a new one was created Island with the active volcano Tofua. Four groups of islands are distinguished from north to south: the Niua group, the Vava’u group (main island Vava’u with 91 km 2), the Ha’apai group and the Tongatapu group (Main island Tongatapu with 257 km 2and Eua with 88 km 2).


Tonga lies in the peripheral tropics. The main precipitation (depending on exposure and altitude 1,000–3,000 mm / year) falls in the warmer season (December – April), when tropical cyclones also occur. The average temperatures are around 20–30 ° C.


The mountainous volcanic islands were once overgrown by dense rainforest, while coconut and pandanus palms mainly grow on the coral islands. In places, the porous, nutrient-poor soils are also covered with a fertile layer of volcanic ash that was blown over from the neighboring islands during volcanic eruptions.



According to the constitution of November 4, 1875 (amended several times), Tonga is a constitutional hereditary monarchy in the Commonwealth. The head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces is the king, who is advised by the Privy Council. He appoints the members of the cabinet on the proposal of the Prime Minister elected by Parliament. After the 2010 electoral reform, the Legislative Assembly (Fale Alea) consists of 9 members of the hereditary nobility and 17 representatives directly elected for 4 years.

National symbols

The national flag was created in the 19th century and was built by King I. George Tupou accepted. In the white upper corner of the red cloth hovers a red bar cross, which indicates the Christian religion of the population.

The coat of arms was designed and adopted in 1862. The quartered shield shows three silver six-pointed stars in the first golden field (symbol for the three most important archipelagos of the kingdom), in the second red field the golden royal crown as a symbol of the monarchy, in the third blue field a dove of peace, in the fourth golden field three crossed swords, Symbol of the three royal families, from which the ruling dynasty derives its origin. At the heart is the national emblem, a red cross on a white six-pointed star. Two national flags cross behind the shield, with the royal crown surrounded by a wreath hovering between them as the upper coat of arms. At the foot of the sign is a tape with the motto “Koe otua mo Tonga ko hoku tofia” (God and Tonga are my inheritance).

The national holiday on June 4th commemorates independence in 1970; November 4th is Constitution Day (1875).


The most important parties are the Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands (DPFI, founded in 2010) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP; founded in 2005).


Tonga has a small army (Tonga Defense Services) with around 450 soldiers. It includes the Royal Marines, the Royal Guards, the Maritime Force (with an air unit) as well as a supply and a training unit; there are also police forces.


Tonga is administratively divided into 5 provinces, which correspond to the islands or archipelagos Ha’apai, Tongatapu, Vava’u, Eua and Niua.


The Tongan legal system largely follows English common law. The highest court is the Court of Appeal. Lower instances are magistrate courts and the Supreme Court. A district court is responsible for all disputes about property. The judges are appointed by the king with the consent of the Privy Council.


According to topschoolsintheusa, there is general compulsory schooling for children between the ages of 6 and 14; Tuition in state schools is free of charge. In addition to the state schools, private and church schools are important. School time in the primary and general secondary schools is 6 years each. In the tertiary sector, Tonga has a department of the University of the South Pacific based in Suva (Fiji) and a university branch of the ‘Atenisi Institute (both in Nuku’alofa); also a college for teacher training and a theological college. Many Tongans study abroad.


Press: There are several regular newspapers and magazines, including “The Times of Tonga” (twice a week; English / Tonga), “Lao and Hia” (weekly; Tonga), “Matangi Tonga Online” (founded in 1986 as a news magazine; online publication since 2004; English).

Broadcasting: The commercially operated Tonga Broadcasting Commission (founded in 1961) broadcasts radio programs in English and Tongan. In 2000 she received the license to set up the nationwide television service “Television Tonga”. The pay-TV broadcaster “Tonfon TV” has been broadcasting since 2002 and was renamed “DigiTV” in 2007 (broadcast on cable 20 TV programs).

Tonga Country Overview