The Islands Tonga (Pule’anga Tonga), are a group of tropical islands located in the South Pacific (Polynesia) between Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands, is a constitutional monarchy associated with the British Commonwealth. The islands – inhabited by a Polynesian population – were discovered by the first Europeans in 1616, in that year were the Dutch ships of the led by Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire to sight for the first time islands. In 1643, some islands of the archipelago were visited by the Dutch captain Abel Tasman. In 1773 and in 1777 was the English Captain James Cook to visit the archipelago and for the welcome he received baptized the Tonga with the name Friendly Islands.
The state is formed by the archipelagos of Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai along with some scattered islands (Niuatoputapu, Niuafo’ou and Tafahi) for a total of about 150 islands. The islands emerging from one of the deepest oceanic trenches, Tonga Trench (-10,882 metres). The capital Nuku’alofa is on the island of Tongatapu (260 sq km), which is the largest and the most densely populated island, other important islands are Vava’u, ‘Eau, Lifuka and Foa.
Most of the islands are flat coral islands of origin, mostly atolls, but some are high volcanic islands with active volcanoes, as the islands of Kao (1,030 metres), Tafahi (560 metres), Niuafo’ou (260 m), Late (540 metres) and Tofua (515 metres), many are also the underwater volcanoes like Curacoa (whose top is located only 33 meters deep), Home Reef (which emerged in 2006), Metis Shoal and Fonualei.
Agriculture is the basis of the island economy there are cultivated cassava, bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, and vanilla, are also very important fisheries and livestock (pigs, cattle, horses). Tourism is a good source of income.
- Area: 748 sqkm. (Arable 67%, Pastures 6%, Forests and Woodlands 11%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 16%)
- Population: 112,000 (2005 data) (Polinesians 98%, Europeans 1%, Asian 1%).
- State Capital: Nuku’alofa.
- Languages: English and Tongan.
- Religion: Christian 100% (Mormon 43%, Methodist 26%, Roman Catholic 13%).
- Currency: Pa’anga (TOP).
- Time: UTC +13 hours.
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