Facts about Tonga


25 Tonga Facts for Kids

Here are some interesting facts about Tonga which were chosen and researched especially for kids.

Flag of TongaFlag of Tonga

1. This country is located in the Pacific Ocean South of the equator. Tonga is located in Oceania.

2. Tonga belongs to the Polynesian islands. The group of islands lie south of Samoa and about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. 

3. Tonga is an archipelago with 171 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Only 45 of 171 islands are inhabited. 

Map of Tonga with islandsMap of Tonga

4. Tongatapu is the largest island of the country.

5. The total land area of Tonga is slightly bigger than that of Singapore or 2.5 times larger than Malta or four times the size of Washington DC/ USA.

Tongan islands as seen from a seaplaneTongan islands

6. The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and actually the last constitutional monarchy of Pacific Island countries. 

7. The capital city is called Nuku’alofa which means residence of love (nuku meaning home and alofa meaning love). This city is home to about 23,000 people.

Sunset over NukualofaSunset over Nuku'alofa on Tongatapu

8. The county’s name originates from the Tongan language. 'Tonga' is the word for 'south' in the Tongan language.

Facts about Tonga | People 

9. Just over 106,000 people live in Tonga. Six out of ten people live on Tongatapu island.

10. The islands are inhabited since about 1000 BCE.

The Tongan empire expanded over the Polynesian islands as well as over Melanesia and Micronesia in the first ninth century.

Traditional hut on TongaTraditional hut on Tonga

11. The first European explorers, Dutch and British, arrived on the islands in the 1600s. 

The country gained independence from the UK only in 1970. Independence Day is celebrated on 4 June 1970 from the UK. However the most important national holiday is the Birthday of King Tupou VI and celebrated on 4 July (actual birthday 12 July 1959)

12. The national colors are red and white and the flag bears a red cross on a white rectangle in the left corner of the red flag.

13. The official languages are Tongan and English. "Malo e lelei" means "hello" and "alu a" means "goodbye".

14. Most of the Tongans are Christians. 64% of the Christians are Protestants and 14% Catholics.

Facts about Tonga
Traditions of Tonga

15. The traditional dance in Tonga is called the Lakalaka and performed by men and women, often in large groups. Dancers often wear the tekiteki which is a headpiece made of feathers.

16. Tongans also wear mats known as the ta’ovala around the waist as a respectful form of dress in the Kingdom. 

17. Sundays are days of rest on the islands. Businesses are closed and there are not even any flights scheduled and business contracts that are signed on a Sunday are legally void. No sports activities are permitted on Sunday

Children in Tonga - image by Maloff/shutterstock.comChildren in Tonga - image by Maloff

Facts about Tonga | Geography

18. The Tongan islands are mostly flat and built on either volcanic rock or coral formations made up with coral, sand and limestone. 

19. The highest point of Tonga is Kao Volcano on Kao Island 1,046 m/ 3,432 ft.

20. Tonga has a tropical climate with a warm season from December to May

Facts about Tonga | Animals

21. In Tonga, you can swim with dolphins and turtles and watch humpback whales swimming along the coastlines. 

22. Among the unique animals that only can be found in Tonga are the Tongan robust tree skink or the Eua forest gecko.

23. Massive coral reefs spreading over large areas surround the islands. The coral reefs are located along the plate boundaries of the Australian and the Pacific tectonic plates. Coral bleaching is a major issue here to and this has an effect on several hundred species of fish that are home in this environment.  

Blue starfishBlue starfish

24. The country struggles with deterioration of the natural environment. Due to clearing of land for agriculture and settlement as well as pollution of the water and soil the environment is damaged and coral reefs and marine life are threatened.

Tonga Facts | Economy

25. The main crops farmed on Tonga include squash, yams, sweet potatoes, coconuts, citrus fruits and vanilla beans. Most food is imported from New Zealand. 

26. The currency of Tonga is called Tongan Pa'anga. One Pa'anga is divided into 100 Seniti.

27. Fish and seafood is the main exports while tourism is a major source of income.

28. The main trade partners are the USA, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, China and Japan

Facts about Tonga | Food

29. Among the most common food in Tonga is the ufi, which is a large white yam.

The popular vegetables include yam, taro, sweet potatoes and cassava and these as well as plantains and breadfruit are eaten every day. Vegetables are often wrapped in banana leaves either for cooking or serving. 

30. Popular dishes include:

Lu pulu (meat and onions, marinated in coconut milk, baked in taro leaves in an umu which is an underground oven).

Umu - the traditional Tongan underground ovenUmu - the traditional Tongan underground oven

Feke (grilled octopus or squid in coconut sauce) and spit roasted suckling is a treat on special occasions. 

Facts about Tonga: Resources

Sources for Facts about Tonga page:

  • Andrew Bruckner. "Tonga Coral Reefs." LivingOceansFoundation. Published 13 September 2013. Last accessed  3 May 2024
  • Tonga Holiday. "A Traveller's Guide to Tongan Culture." Tongapocketguide. Last accessed  3 May 2024
  • Central Intelligence Agency. "Tonga." WorldFactBook. Last updated 1 May 2024. Last accessed 3 May 2024

First uploaded: 18 March 2022 - Last updated: 3 May 2024

Image Credits on Facts about Tonga: photo stock from shutterstock and wikicommons, if not otherwise stated.

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