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Discover Tonga with Timothy Tye

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Extension work being done on the Nuku'alofa Royal Palace, TongaExtension work being done on the Nuku'alofa Royal Palace, Tonga
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Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. It comprises 176 islands encompassing an area of some 700,000 sq km, although total land area of Tonga is only 748 sq km (289 sq mi). The country is a constitutional monarchy headed by King George Tupou V. Tonga has a population of 104,000 (2011 estimate). Its capital and largest city is Nuku'alofa.

Tonga is 13 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+13), and fourteen hours ahead during Daylight Saving Time in summer. Its official currency is called the Pa'anga (TOP). Traffic is driven on the left here. The electricity if 230V/50Hz using Australian plug. The phone IDD code is +676.

Eua Island, TongaEua Island, Tonga
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authorshipBoris Johnson
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Tonga comprises five regions namely 'Eua, Ha'apai, Niuas, Tongatapu and Vava'u. The capital is located on Tongatapu. Tonga experiences a tropical climate with temperature that can be considered quite uniform throughout the year. There are minor variation with February being the warmest month, when the average of the day reaches 29°C (84°F) while July through September are the coolest, with an average of 17°C (63°F).

Tonga has been inhabited for thousands of years when Dutch explorers Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire became the first Europeans to arrive there in 1616. In their wake came Abel Tasman in 1643 and James Cook in 1773, 1774 and 1777.

The present Tongan monarchy dates back to 1845, when a young warrior united the country and had himself made king. He was baptised by the name George (Jioji). Through missionary influence, he took steps towards turning Tonga into a constitutional monarchy. Through a Treaty of Friendship on 18 May, 1900, Tonga became a British Protectorate. When the protectorate status ended in 1970, Tonga joined the Commonwealth of Nations, but with its own monarch as head of state rather than the British monarch.

Vava'u Beach, TongaVava'u Beach, Tonga
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The first decade of the 21st century saw Tonga amending its constitution to limit freedom of the press, reason given being to strengthen cultural values. This indirectly led to widespread protest and eventual rioting in 2006. Since then, the power of the monarch has been systematically dismantled and passed on to the prime minister.

Planning your visit to Tonga

Visitor to Tonga must show prove of return passage in order to obtain a free one-month visa. The visa can be extended at the immigration department if required.

Fua'amotu Airport (TBU) is the international airport for Tonga. It receives flights from Auckland, Sydney and Nadi in Fiji.

Places of Interest in Tonga

  1. 'Eua
  2. Ha'apai
  3. Niuas
  4. Tongatapu
  5. Vava'u

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