The World Factbook (1990)/Tonga


World Factbook (1990) Tonga.jpg

See regional map X


Total area: 748 km²; land area: 718 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than four times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 419 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: no specific limits
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)

Terrain: most islands have limestone base formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic base

Natural resources: fish, fertile soil

Land use: 25% arable land; 55% permanent crops; 6% meadows and pastures; 12% forest and woodland; 2% other

Environment: archipelago of 170 islands (36 inhabited); subject to cyclones (October to April); deforestation

Note: located about 2,250 km north-northwest of New Zealand, about two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand


Population: 101,313 (July 1990), growth rate 0.9% (1990)

Birth rate: 27 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -11 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 24 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 65 years male, 70 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.9 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Tongan(s); adjective—Tongan

Ethnic divisions: Polynesian; about 300 Europeans

Religion: Christian; Free Wesleyan Church claims over 30,000 adherents

Language: Tongan, English

Literacy: 90-95%; compulsory education for children ages 6 to 14

Labor force: NA; 70% agriculture; 600 engaged in mining

Organized labor: none


Long-form name: Kingdom of Tonga

Type: hereditary constitutional monarchy

Capital: Nuku‘alofa

Administrative divisions: three island groups; Ha‘apai, Tongatapu, Vava‘u

Independence: 4 June 1970 (from UK; formerly Friendly Islands)

Constitution: 4 November 1875, revised 1 January 1967

Legal system: based on English law

National holiday: Emancipation Day, 4 June (1970)

Executive branch: monarch, prime minister, deputy prime minister, Council of Ministers (cabinet), Privy Council

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—King Taufa’ahau TUPOU IV (since 16 December 1965);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Prince Fatafehi TU’IPELEHAKE (since 16 December 1965)

Political parties and leaders: none

Suffrage: all literate, tax-paying males and all literate females over 21

Elections: Legislative Assembly—last held 14-15 February 1990 (next to be held NA February 1993); results—percent of vote NA; seats—(29 total, 9 elected) 6 proreform, 3 traditionalist

Communists: none known

Member of: ACP, ADB, Commonwealth, FAO, ESCAP, GATT (de facto), IFAD, ITU, SPF, UNESCO, UPU, WHO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Siosaia Ma’Ulupekotofa TUITA resides in London; US—the US has no offices in Tonga; the Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga and makes periodic visits

Flag: red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner


Overview: The economy's base is agriculture, which employs about 70% of the labor force and contributes 50% to GDP. Coconuts, bananas, and vanilla beans are the main crops and make up two-thirds of exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The manufacturing sector accounts for only 10% of GDP. Tourism is the primary source of hard currency earnings, but the island remains dependent on sizable external aid and remittances to sustain its trade deficit.

GDP: $86 million, per capita $850; real growth rate 3.6% (FY89 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.2% (FY87)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $54.8 million; expenditures $56.2 million, including capital expenditures of $16.9 million (FY88 est.)

Exports: $9.1 million (f.o.b., FY88 est.); commodities—coconut oil, desiccated coconut, copra, bananas, taro, vanilla beans, fruits, vegetables, fish; partners—NZ 54%, Australia 30%, US 8%, Fiji 5% (FY87)

Imports: $60.1 million (c.i.f., FY88 est.); commodities—food products, beverages and tobacco, fuels, machinery and transport equipment, chemicals, building materials; partners—NZ 39%, Australia 25%, Japan 9%, US 6%, EC 5% (FY87)

External debt: $31.8 million (1987)

Industrial production: growth rate 15% (FY86)

Electricity: 5,000 kW capacity; 8 million kWh produced, 80 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: tourism, fishing

Agriculture: dominated by coconut, copra, and banana production; vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-87), $15 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $220 million

Currency: pa’anga (plural—pa’anga); 1 pa’anga (T$) = 100 seniti

Exchange rates: pa’anga (T$) per US$1—1.23 (FY89 est.), 1.37 (FY88), 1.51 (FY87), 1.43 (FY86), 1.30(FY85)

Fiscal year: 1 July-30 June


Highways: 198 km sealed road (Tongatapu); 74 km (Vava‘u); 94 km unsealed roads usable only in dry weather

Ports: Nukualofa, Neiafu, Pangai

Merchant marine: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 37,249 GRT/50,116 DWT; includes 2 cargo, 1 roll-on /roll-off cargo, 2 container, 1 liquefied gas

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airports: 6 total, 6 usable; 1 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659; 1 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 3,529 telephones; 66,000 radio receivers; no TV sets; stations—1 AM, no FM, no TV; 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Land Force, Maritime Force

Military manpower: NA

Defense expenditures: NA