Brief History of Tonga:
Tonga is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. The main island is Tongatapu. It has been inhabited by Polynesian peoples since 500 BC. The Tongan kingdom was at its peak during the 1200s when it had influence as far as Samoa.
The first Europeans to discover Tonga was the Dutch in 1616. In 1643 Dutch navigator Abel Tasman visited the island of Tongatapu. Later Captain James Cook visited the islands and gave them the name ?Friendly Islands?.
Christianity began to spread throughout the islands in the 1800s. The leader Taufa'ahou became a Christian and also united the islands under one rule. He became Kin George Tupou I in 1845.
The Geography of Tonga
Total Size: 748 square km
Size Comparison: four times the size of Washington, DC
Geographical Coordinates: 20 00 S, 175 00 W
World Region or Continent: Oceania
General Terrain: most islands have limestone base formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic base
Geographical Low Point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Geographical High Point: unnamed location on Kao Island 1,033 m
Climate: tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)
The People of Tonga
Type of Government: constitutional monarchy
Languages Spoken: Tongan, English
Independence: 4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)
National Holiday: Emancipation Day, 4 June (1970)
Religions: Christian (Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents)
National Symbol: red cross on white field; arms equal length
National Anthem or Song: Ko e fasi `o e tui `o e `Otu Tonga (Song of the King of the Tonga Islands)
Economy of Tonga
Major Industries: tourism, fishing
Agricultural Products: squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper; fish
Natural Resources: fish, fertile soil
Major Exports: squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops
Major Imports: foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Currency: pa'anga (TOP)
National GDP: $763,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
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