Geographic and Governmental Profile of Tonga

Background
Tonga - unique among Pacific nations - never completely lost its indigenous governance. The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900; it withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. Tonga remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.
Location
Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates
20 00 S, 175 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Oceania
Area
total:
747 sq km
rank:
190
land:
717 sq km
water:
30 sq km
Area - comparative
four times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
0 km
Coastline
419 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
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
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point:
unnamed elevation on Kao Island 1,033 m
Natural resources
fish, fertile soil
Land use
arable land:
20%
permanent crops:
14.67%
other:
65.33% (2005)
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Irrigated land
NA
Natural hazards
cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo'ou
volcanism:
moderate volcanic activity; Fonualei (elev. 180 m) has shown frequent activity in recent years, while Niuafo'ou (elev. 260 m), which last erupted in 1985, has forced evacuations; other historically active volcanoes include Late and Tofua
Environment - current issues
deforestation results as more and more land is being cleared for agriculture and settlement; some damage to coral reefs from starfish and indiscriminate coral and shell collectors; overhunting threatens native sea turtle populations
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified:
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
archipelago of 169 islands (36 inhabited)
Country name
conventional long form:
Kingdom of Tonga
conventional short form:
Tonga
local long form:
Pule'anga Tonga
local short form:
Tonga
former:
Friendly Islands
Government type
constitutional monarchy
Capital
name:
Nuku'alofa
geographic coordinates:
21 08 S, 175 12 W
time difference:
UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
3 island groups; Ha'apai, Tongatapu, Vava'u
Independence
4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate)
National holiday
National Day, 4 November (1875)
Constitution
4 November 1875; revised 1 January 1967
Legal system
English common law
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
Suffrage
21 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
King TUPOU VI (since 18 March 2012); note - King George TUPOU V died on 18 March 2012 in Hong Kong; he was succeeded by his brother Crown Prince TUPOUTO'A Lavaka, who took the throne name TUPOU VI
head of government:
Prime Minister Lord Siale'ataonga TU'IVAKANO (since 22 December 2010)
cabinet:
Cabinet is nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the monarch
there is also a Privy Council that advises the monarch
elections:
the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister elected by and from the members of parliament and appointed by the monarch
election results:
Lord Siale'ataonga TU'IVAKANO elected by parliament on 21 December 2010 with 14 of 26 votes
Legislative branch
unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea (26 seats - 9 for nobles elected from among the country's 29 nobles, 17 members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections:
last held on 25 November 2010 (next to be held in 2014)
election results:
Peoples Representatives: percent of vote - independents 67.3%, Democratic Party 28.5%; seats - Democratic Party 12, independents 5
Judicial branch
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the monarch); Court of Appeal (Chief Justice and high court justices from overseas chosen and approved by Privy Council)
Political parties and leaders
Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands [Samuela 'Akilisi POHIVA]; People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tesina FUKO]; Sustainable Nation-Building Party [Sione FONUA]; Tonga Democratic Labor Party [NA]; Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement or THRDM [Uliti UATA]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Human Rights and Democracy Movement Tonga or HRDMT [Rev. Simote VEA, chairman]; Public Servant's Association [Finau TUTONE]
International organization participation
ACP, ADB, AOSIS, C, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, ITU, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Sonatane Tu'akinamolahi TAUMOEPEAU-TUPOU
chancery:
250 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022
telephone:
[1] (917) 369-1025
FAX:
[1] (917) 369-1024
consulate(s) general:
San Francisco
Diplomatic representation from the US
the US does not have an embassy in Tonga; the US ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga
Flag description
red with a bold red cross on a white rectangle in the upper hoist-side corner; the cross reflects the deep-rooted Christianity in Tonga; red represents the blood of Christ and his sacrifice; white signifies purity
National symbol(s)
red cross on white field; arms equal length
National anthem
name:
"Ko e fasi `o e tu"i `o e `Otu Tonga" (Song of the King of the Tonga Islands)
lyrics/music:
Uelingatoni Ngu TUPOUMALOHI/Karl Gustavus SCHMITT
in use since 1875; the anthem is more commonly known as "Fasi Fakafonua" (National Song)
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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