The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean comprising over 170 islands, out of which 52 are inhabited. Most of its 103,000 people live in the only urban centre, Nuku’alofa on the island of Tongatapu, which is also the nation’s capital.
The country has a tropical climate, with the rainy season lasting from February until April, and the cyclone season from the beginning of November until the end of April. Nonetheless, cyclones are not an uncommon occurrence in Tonga throughout the rest of the year.
Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and its first parliament was elected in 2010. This is island nation is the only country within the Polynesian region to have never lost sovereignty to any foreign powers. At the beginning of the last century, Tonga entered the protection of the British monarchy, under the Treaty of Friendship, which ended in 1970.
The country’s economy is largely dependent on remittances sent in by the numerous Tongans living abroad. Agriculture is the most developed sector and it represents the lifeline for much of Tonga’s rural population. The country’s major exports are represented by squash, vanilla beans, root crops, fish, and domain names. Tonga’s currency is the pa’anga (T$).
There are two official languages in Tonga: English and Tongan. Tongan is a Polynesian language resembling other languages in the region, such as Samoan or Hawaiian. Tonga’s national sport is rugby union, and its team, dubbed the Sea Eagles, often competes with success in international competitions.