Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Tonga
Region (Map name): Oceania
Population: 102,321
Language(s): Tongan, English
Literacy rate: 98.5%

Tonga, an archipelago of more than 170 islands in the South Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and New Zealand, is the only remaining Polynesian monarchy. Formerly known as the Friendly Islands, the area united as a single kingdom in 1845 but became a British protectorate in 1900. Independence came in 1970. Its population is approximately 104,000. The official languages are English and Tongan, and the literacy rate is 98.5 percent. A monarch serves as the chief of state, and a Prime Minister heads the government, presiding over a unicameral, 30-seat Fale Alea, or Legislative Assembly. The position of Prime Minister is a life appointment made by the monarch. Tonga's small economy is anchored by agriculture, especially squash, coconuts, bananas and vanilla beans. Tourism is the country's main source of hard currency earnings.

Freedom of press and speech are limited. Some privately owned newspapers carry opposition views, but journalists have been harassed and threatened with criminal charges. State-owned radio and television stations often favor government policy, and independent broadcast media offer little independent local coverage. There is no daily newspaper, but there are three weeklies. The Tonga Chronicle (Ko e Kalonikali Tonga) is a government-owned newspaper that appears on Fridays. It publishes two editions, one in Tongan with a circulation of 5,000, and one in English with a circulation of 1,500. The Times of Tonga (Taimi o Tonga) is an independent weekly that publishes on Monday. Most articles are in Tongan, but English is also used. It maintains a news bureau in Tonga, but the newspaper is actually printed in New Zealand. It is available online through its own Web site and the Planet Tonga Web portal. Lao moe Hia highlights sensational court cases involving Tongans at home and abroad. It publishes in Tongan only. The Tonga Star is an independent online news Web site featuring national and international news. Ko e Keléa, also independent, publishes bimonthly in Tongan and English, and enjoys a circulation of 5,000. There are also several monthly newspapers issued by church organizations.

There are three radio stations, one AM and one FM, serving 61,000 radios, and there is one television station broadcasting to 2,000 televisions. There is also one Internet service provider.


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"CocoNET Wireless," The University of Queensland, Australia (1997). Available from .

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"The News Media in the Kingdom of Tonga," Tonga on the 'Net. Available from tonga/news/default.htm .

Tonga Star, (2002) Home Page. Available from http:// .

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Jenny B. Davis

Also read article about Tonga from Wikipedia

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