Tonga is one of the countries in the Pacific Islands. It has a red flag with a white canton complemented with a red cross in the middle. Nukualofa is the country’s capital and chief port. With slightly more than 100,000 people, most Tongans live abroad while supporting the remaining ones financially.
Here are more amazing Tonga facts that you probably didn’t know.
1. Tonga Is The Only Pacific Country That Was Not Colonized
Examples of Pacific islands/countries include Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Kiribati, Nauru, and Tonga. Even though it is a former British Protectorate, Tonga is the only country in that region that was never formally colonized; it did not lose its indigenous governance.
2. Tonga’s Humpback Whales Are A Tourist Attraction
Every year, between July and October, tourists flock to the island of Tonga to see the humpback whales. The humongous sea animals usually migrate to the warm waters of Tonga to breed, give birth, and raise their young ones before traveling back to the Antarctic.
3. Tongans Thrive On Agriculture
Most Tongans are farmers, with the majority opting for farming squash, yams, and root crops. Agriculture contributes about 29% of the country’s GDP and 50% of its exports.
4. It Is A Constitutional Monarchy
Tonga is a constitutional monarchy and the only remaining one in the Pacific islands. In ancient times, a sacred paramount chief, the Tu’i Tonga, ruled it. The monarch is unquestionable and immune to criticism.
5. Tonga Has a Tropical Rainforest Climate
The weather in Tonga is generally warm from December to April, with temperatures rising above 32 degrees Celsius. May to November is usually cooler, with average temperatures at 27 degrees Celsius.
6. Tonga’s Economy Hugely Relies On Remittances From Abroad
About half of Tonga’s population live abroad, most settling in New Zealand. Consequently, the other half remaining in the country usually depend on their overseas relatives for financial support to cater to their daily needs.
7. It Was One Named Of The Most Corrupt Countries
Forbes Magazine named Tonga the 6th most corrupt country in the world in 2008. This is partly because of the royal family and the nobles’ dominance. They regulate a significant chunk of the country’s economic resources, specifically satellite and telecommunication services.
8. The National Languages of Tonga Are English And Tongan
Tonga has a population of slightly over 100,000 people. Its national languages are English and Tongan. Interestingly, even though counting 0-10 is easy in Tongan, it can be confusing, too. For instance, some of the words used to count coconuts differ from those used to count fish.
9. Most of the People In Tonga Are Obese
Tonga ranks among the countries whose majority of the population is obese. This starts from the royal family all the way to the ordinary citizen. King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV holds the record for the heaviest monarch in the world. He weighed about 200kg.
10. Tonga Is Famous For Its Blowholes
In a geological setting, a blowhole refers to the opening formed when the sea caves grow landwards, creating vertical shafts allowing water to blast through them. Tonga is popular for such blowholes, with some stretching as far as 5 km. Natives call them Mapu a Vaea or “Whistle of the Noble.”
11. A Tongan Woman Who Bears Only Boys Must Raise One As A Woman To Help With The Chores
Women who bear only boys in Tonga must raise one of them as a daughter to help her out with the chores. This is so normal in the region that no stigma is attached to the “converted” boys, popularly referred to as fakaleiti. Today, people willingly adopt the fakaleiti lifestyle.
12. There Was An Extraordinary Volcano Eruption in Tonga in 2022
On January 15, 2022, a huge volcano, dubbed the Hunga Tonga Ha’apai Volcano, erupted in Tonga. It was so big that it sent a tsunami racing around the globe. The volcano shot about 146 metric megatons of water 36 miles into the stratosphere, where it remains. Experts say the event could partly contribute to the planet’s global warming.
13. There Is a 24-Hour Time Difference Between Tonga and American Samoa
The time difference between Tonga and American Samoa is 24 hours. This means that Tonga celebrates the New Year a day before American Samoa does.
14. Six Boys From Tonga Survived Alone In An Island For 15 Months
In 1965, 6 Tongan boys took a boot and sailed away. After a heavy storm, they drifted and ended up on the uninhabited island of Ata 8 days later. They remained in the rocky region where they hollowed out tree trunks to store water, set up a food garden, reared chickens, and built gymnasium weights. After rescue services and their families had given up, the teenagers returned home after surviving for 15 months.
15. Most of the Tonga Islands Are Not Inhabited
Tonga has about 170 islands, most of which are not inhabited. Only about 45 have human activities, with the rest avoided because of farming unsuitability and natural calamities.
16. Tongans Used To Swim to Pass Mail to Ships
Until 1983, Tongans used to swim to pass and receive mail from sailing ships. Most of the country’s shorelines lacked beaches, and the currents nearby were too treacherous for the ships to sail closer to land. Sharks ate many of the swimmers.
17. Tonga Has An Impressive Rugby Team
Rugby is one of the biggest sports in Tonga. The team has impressively qualified for 9 out of 10 Rugby World Cups since the competition started in 1987. It is nicknamed “Ikale Tahi,” translating to “The Sea Eagles.”