Photos of Tonga

August 2006 brought two new things to the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific. One was a raft of lightweight, frothy volcanic rock - pumice - floating on the ocean surface. The other was a new island emerging out of the water. NASA's Aqua satellite captured the aftermath of the eruption on 10 August 2006. For comparison, the bottom image shows the same area but taken almost one year earlier, on 15 September 2005. 

The emerging volcanic island is partially hidden by its own plume. Volcanic plumes often appear drab gray or beige compared to clouds, and plumes from the emerging island move away from it in different directions, one to the southeast, and some to the north. The bright white spot directly over the island may be cloud cover, or it could be steam resulting from volcanic emissions.

The raft of pumice appears to the northeast of the emerging island, and it actually connects, via a thin thread, to neighboring Late Island. The blue-green color of the water around the raft and the new island is probably fine sediment that is making the deep blue water more reflective. The pumice raft gained international attention when a news report described the experience of a yacht crew that inadvertently encountered the pumice raft. The "sea of stone" clogged the yacht's engine-cooling system, forcing the vessel to turn back.

Pumice rafts are not an everyday occurrence, but they have been observed before. Biologists theorize that pumice rafts may be one of the ways that plants and animals spread from island to island in marine environments. Photo courtesy of NASA.



The first humans arrived in Tonga around 1000 B.C. The islands’ politics were probably highly centralized under the Tu’i Tonga, or Tongan king, by A.D. 950, and by 1200, the Tu’i Tonga had expanded his influence throughout Polynesia and into Melanesia and Micronesia. The Tongan Empire began to decline in the 1300s, descending into civil wars, a military defeat to Samoa, and internal political strife that saw successive leaders assassinated. By the mid-1500s, some Tu’i Tongans were ethnic Samoan and day-to-day administration of Tonga was transferred to a new position occupied by ethnic Tongans.

Dutch sailors explored the islands in the 1600s and British Captain James COOK visited Tonga three times in the 1770s, naming them the Friendly Islands for the positive reception he thought he received, even though the Tongans he encountered were plotting ways to kill him. In 1799, Tonga fell into a new round of civil wars over succession. Wesleyan missionaries arrived in 1822, quickly converting the population. In the 1830s, a low-ranking chief from Ha’apai began to consolidate control over the islands and won the support of the missionaries by declaring that he would dedicate Tonga to God. The chief soon made alliances with leaders on most of the other islands and was crowned King George TUPOU I in 1845, establishing the only still-extant Polynesian monarchy. TUPOU I declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and his successor, King George TUPOU II, agreed to enter a protectorate agreement with the UK in 1900 after rival Tongan chiefs tried to overthrow him. As a protectorate, Tonga never completely lost its indigenous governance, but it did become more isolated and the social hierarchy became more stratified between a group of nobles and a large class of commoners. Today, about one third of parliamentary seats are reserved for nobles.

Queen Salote TUPOU III negotiated the end of the protectorate in 1965, which was achieved under King TUPOU IV, who in 1970 withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations. A prodemocracy movement gained steam in the early 2000s, led by future Prime Minister ‘Akilisi POHIVA, and in 2006, riots broke out in Nuku’alofa to protest the lack of progress on prodemocracy legislation. To appease the activists, in 2008, King George TUPOU V announced he was relinquishing most of his powers leading up to parliamentary elections in 2010; he died in 2012 and was succeeded by his brother ‘Aho’eitu TUPOU VI. Tropical Cyclone Gita, the strongest-ever recorded storm to impact Tonga, hit the islands in February 2018 causing extensive damage.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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


total: 747 sq km

land: 717 sq km

water: 30 sq km

comparison ranking: total 189

Area - comparative

four times the size of Washington, DC

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 0 km


419 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)


mostly flat islands with limestone bedrock formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic rock


highest point: Kao Volcano on Kao Island 1,046 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

arable land, fish

Land use

agricultural land: 43.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 22.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 5.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 12.5% (2018 est.)

other: 44.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Population distribution

over two-thirds of the population lives on the island of Tongatapu; only 45 of the nation's 171 islands are occupied

Natural hazards

cyclones (October to April); earthquakes and volcanic activity on Fonuafo'ou

volcanism: moderate volcanic activity; Fonualei (180 m) has shown frequent activity in recent years, while Niuafo'ou (260 m), which last erupted in 1985, has forced evacuations; other historically active volcanoes include Late and Tofua

Geography - note

the western islands (making up the Tongan Volcanic Arch) are all of volcanic origin; the eastern islands are nonvolcanic and are composed of coral limestone and sand

People and Society


total: 104,889

male: 52,606

female: 52,283 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 194; male 191; total 191


noun: Tongan(s)

adjective: Tongan

Ethnic groups

Tongan 96.5%, other (European, Fijian, Samoan, Indian, Chinese, other Pacific Islander, other Asian, other) 3.5% (2021 est.)


Tongan only 85%, Tongan and other language 13.9%, Tongan not used at home 1.1% (2021 est.)

note: data represent language use at home of persons aged 5 and older


Protestant 63.9% (Free Wesleyan Church 34.2%, Free Church of Tonga 11.3%, Church of Tonga 6.8%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.5%, Assembly of God 2.5%, Tokaikolo/Maamafo'ou 1.5%, Constitutional Church of Tonga 1.2%, other Protestant 4%), Church of Jesus Christ 19.7%, Roman Catholic 13.7%, other 2.1%, none 0.6%, no answer 0.1% (2021 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 29.3% (male 15,627/female 15,142)

15-64 years: 63.2% (male 33,445/female 32,867)

65 years and over: 7.4% (2024 est.) (male 3,534/female 4,274)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 68.6

youth dependency ratio: 58.5

elderly dependency ratio: 10.5

potential support ratio: 9.5 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 25.9 years (2024 est.)

male: 25.4 years

female: 26.4 years

comparison ranking: total 166

Population growth rate

-0.34% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 213

Birth rate

19.7 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 71

Death rate

5 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 195

Net migration rate

-18.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 227

Population distribution

over two-thirds of the population lives on the island of Tongatapu; only 45 of the nation's 171 islands are occupied


urban population: 23.2% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.99% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

23,000 NUKU'ALOFA (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

24.9 years (2012 est.)

note: data represents median age at first birth among women 25-49

Maternal mortality ratio

126 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 61

Infant mortality rate

total: 11.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 12.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 10.8 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 111

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 78 years (2024 est.)

male: 76.4 years

female: 79.7 years

comparison ranking: total population 84

Total fertility rate

2.65 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 62

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.8% of population

rural: 99.6% of population

total: 99.6% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.2% of population

rural: 0.4% of population

total: 0.4% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

5.3% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

0.95 physicians/1,000 population (2020)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99.4% of population

rural: 98.8% of population

total: 98.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.6% of population

rural: 1.2% of population

total: 1.1% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

48.2% (2016)

comparison ranking: 7

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.31 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.03 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.17 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.11 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 169

Tobacco use

total: 31% (2020 est.)

male: 46.7% (2020 est.)

female: 15.3% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 27

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 0.4%

women married by age 18: 10.1%

men married by age 18: 2.8% (2019 est.)

Education expenditures

6.6% of GDP (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 28


definition: can read and write Tongan and/or English

total population: 99.4%

male: 99.4%

female: 99.5% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 16 years

male: 15 years

female: 17 years (2020)


Environment - current issues

deforestation from land being cleared for agriculture and settlement; soil exhaustion; water pollution due to salinization, sewage, and toxic chemicals from farming activities; coral reefs and marine populations threatened

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements


tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)

Land use

agricultural land: 43.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 22.2% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 15.3% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 5.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 12.5% (2018 est.)

other: 44.4% (2018 est.)


urban population: 23.2% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.99% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.03% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 134

Revenue from coal

0% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 88

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 7.52 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.13 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 0.12 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 17,238 tons (2012 est.)

Total renewable water resources

0 cubic meters (2017 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Kingdom of Tonga

conventional short form: Tonga

local long form: Pule'anga Fakatu'i 'o Tonga

local short form: Tonga

former: Friendly Islands

etymology: "tonga" means "south" in the Tongan language and refers to the country's geographic position in relation to central Polynesia

Government type

constitutional monarchy


name: Nuku'alofa

geographic coordinates: 21 08 S, 175 12 W

time difference: UTC+13 (18 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in November; ends second Sunday in January

etymology: composed of the words nuku, meaning "residence or abode," and alofa, meaning "love," to signify "abode of love"

Administrative divisions

5 island divisions; 'Eua, Ha'apai, Ongo Niua, Tongatapu, Vava'u


4 June 1970 (from UK protectorate status)

National holiday

Official Birthday of King TUPOU VI, 4 July (1959); note - actual birthday of the monarch is 12 July 1959, 4 July (2015) is the day the king was crowned; Constitution Day (National Day), 4 November (1875)


history: adopted 4 November 1875, revised 1988, 2016

amendments: proposed by the Legislative Assembly; passage requires approval by the Assembly in each of three readings, the unanimous approval of the Privy Council (a high-level advisory body to the monarch), the Cabinet, and assent to by the monarch; revised 1988; amended many times, last in 2013

Legal system

English common law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Tonga; if a child is born out of wedlock, the mother must be a citizen of Tonga

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


21 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King TUPOU VI (since 18 March 2012); Heir Apparent Crown Prince Siaosi Manumataogo 'Alaivahamama'o 'Ahoeitu Konstantin Tuku'aho, son of the king (born 17 September 1985)

head of government: Prime Minister Siaosi SOVALENI (since 27 December 2021)

cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the monarch

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; prime minister and deputy prime minister indirectly elected by the Legislative Assembly and appointed by the monarch; election last held on 18 November 2021 (next to be held in November 2025)

election results: Siaosi SOVALENI elected prime minister by the Legislative Assembly; Siaosi SOVALENI 16 votes, Aisake EKE 10

note: a Privy Council advises the monarch

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fale Alea (30 seats statutory, 28 current); 17 people's representatives directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, and 9 indirectly elected by hereditary leaders; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 18 November 2021 (next to be held in November 2025)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - independent 11, nobles' representatives 9, DPFI 3, TPPI 3; composition - men 26, women 2, percentage women 7.1%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the court president and a number of judges determined by the monarch); note - appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are brought before the King in Privy Council, the monarch's advisory organ that has both judicial and legislative powers

judge selection and term of office: judge appointments and tenures made by the King in Privy Council and subject to consent of the Legislative Assembly

subordinate courts: Supreme Court; Magistrates' Courts; Land Courts

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands or DPFI or PTOA [Semisi SIKA]
People's Democratic Party or PDP [Tesina FUKO]
Tonga Democratic Labor Party (vacant)
Tonga Human Rights and Democracy Movement or HRDM ['Uliti UATA]
Tonga People's Party or PAK or TPPI (Paati ʻa e Kakai ʻo Tonga) [Pohiva TU'I'ONETOA] (split from Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands)

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Viliana Va’inga TONE (since 20 April 2021)

chancery: 250 East 51st Street, New York, NY 10022

telephone: [1] (917) 369-1025

FAX: [1] (917) 369-1024

email address and website:

consulate(s) general: San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Marie DAMOUR (since 6 December 2022); note - Ambassador DAMOUR is based in the US Embassy in the Republic of Fiji and is accredited to Tonga as well as Kiribati, Nauru, and Tuvalu

embassy: although the US opened an embassy in Tonga on 9 May 2023, the US Ambassador to Fiji is accredited to Tonga while the Embassy is being staffed

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, and white signifies purity

National symbol(s)

red cross on white field, arms equal length; national colors: red, white

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Tonga:
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Tonga

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

note: in use since 1875; more commonly known as "Fasi Fakafonua" (National Song)


Economic overview

upper middle-income Pacific island economy; enormous diaspora and remittance reliance; key tourism and agricultural sectors; major fish exporter; rapidly growing Chinese infrastructure investments; rising methamphetamine hub

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$651.259 million (2021 est.)
$669.107 million (2020 est.)
$665.853 million (2019 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 212

Real GDP growth rate

-2.67% (2021 est.)
0.49% (2020 est.)
0.71% (2019 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 205

Real GDP per capita

$6,100 (2021 est.)
$6,400 (2020 est.)
$6,300 (2019 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 159

GDP (official exchange rate)

$469.228 million (2021 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

10.97% (2022 est.)
5.64% (2021 est.)
-0.35% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 168

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 19.9% (2017 est.)

industry: 20.3% (2017 est.)

services: 59.8% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 129; industry 145; agriculture 49

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 99.4% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 21.9% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 24.1% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 22.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -68.5% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

coconuts, pumpkins/squash, cassava, sweet potatoes, vegetables, yams, taro, root vegetables, plantains, lemons/limes (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage


tourism, construction, fishing

Industrial production growth rate

1.23% (2021 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 143

Labor force

38,000 (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 200

Unemployment rate

2.43% (2022 est.)
2.11% (2021 est.)
2.73% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 29

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 11.1% (2021 est.)

male: 7.5%

female: 16.3%

comparison ranking: total 145

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

33.5 (2015 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 120

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.2%

highest 10%: 26.8% (2015 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


46.22% of GDP (2021 est.)
39.31% of GDP (2020 est.)
37.18% of GDP (2019 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities


revenues: $212 million (2019 est.)

expenditures: $196 million (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 44

Public debt

49.41% of GDP (2016 est.)
51.8% of GDP (FY2016 est.)
51.18% of GDP (2015 est.)

note: central government debt as a % of GDP

comparison ranking: 99

Taxes and other revenues

39.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 12

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Current account balance

-$31.432 million (2022 est.)
-$24.467 million (2021 est.)
-$25.78 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 76


$59.622 million (2022 est.)
$58.152 million (2021 est.)
$99.78 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 213

Exports - partners

US 31%, Australia 19%, NZ 12%, Hong Kong 8%, Belgium 8% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

fish, scrap copper, processed crustaceans, vegetables, perfume plants (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$329.146 million (2022 est.)
$291.957 million (2021 est.)
$309.685 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 207

Imports - partners

Fiji 28%, China 23%, NZ 21%, Australia 6%, US 5% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, plastic products, poultry, sheep and goat meat, cars (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$375.564 million (2022 est.)
$361.812 million (2021 est.)
$298.948 million (2020 est.)

note: holdings of gold (year-end prices)/foreign exchange/special drawing rights in current dollars

comparison ranking: 177

Debt - external

$189.9 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$198.2 million (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 190

Exchange rates

pa'anga (TOP) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
2.328 (2022 est.)
2.265 (2021 est.)
2.3 (2020 est.)
2.289 (2019 est.)
2.237 (2018 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)


installed generating capacity: 26,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 54.448 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 5.9 million kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 203; transmission/distribution losses 13; imports 170; exports 162; consumption 201

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 100% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)


production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)


total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 1,200 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 114

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 127

Refined petroleum products - imports

910 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 202

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

171,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 171,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 207

Energy consumption per capita

22.841 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 133


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 10,824 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 10 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 188

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 64,328 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 61 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 202

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Tonga was only connected to the global submarine telecommunication network in the last decade; though this system is more stable than other technologies such as satellite and fixed infrastructure; the January 2022 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai severed Tonga’s connection to the submarine telecommunication network



domestic: fixed-line 10 per 100 persons and mobile-cellular teledensity 61 telephones per 100 (2021)

international: country code - 676; landing point for the Tonga Cable and the TDCE connecting to Fiji and 3 separate Tonga islands; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2020)

Broadcast media

1 state-owned TV station and 3 privately owned TV stations; satellite and cable TV services are available; 1 state-owned and 5 privately owned radio stations; Radio Australia broadcasts available via satellite (2019)

Internet users

total: 73,700 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 67% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 194

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 5,000 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 188


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1


6 (2024)

comparison ranking: 175


total: 680 km

paved: 184 km

unpaved: 496 km (2011)

comparison ranking: total 191

Merchant marine

total: 29 (2023)

by type: container ship 1, general cargo 13, oil tanker 1, other 14

comparison ranking: total 136


total ports: 3 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 0

small: 0

very small: 3

ports with oil terminals: 0

key ports: Neiafu, Nuku Alofa, Pangai

Military and Security

Military and security forces

His Majesty's Armed Forces Tonga (aka Tonga Defense Services): Tonga Royal Guard, Land Force (Royal Tongan Marines), Tonga Navy, Air Wing

Ministry of Police and Fire Services: Tonga Police Force (2023)

Military expenditures

1.6% of GDP (2023 est.)
1.6% of GDP (2022 est.)
1.5% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.4% of GDP (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 85

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 500-700 personnel (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Tonga military's inventory includes mostly light weapons and equipment from Australia, European countries (primarily the UK), and the US; nearly all of its military acquisitions in recent years have come from Australia (2023)

Military service age and obligation

voluntary military service for men and women 18-25; no conscription (2023)

Military - note

the HMAF’s primary missions are protecting the King and Tonga’s sovereignty; the HMAF has contributed small numbers of personnel to multinational military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Solomon Islands; it is a small force comprised of royal guards, marines, a few naval patrol boats, and a couple of aircraft for maritime patrolling, search and rescue, and training purposes 

Tonga participated in World War I as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, but the Tonga Defense Force (TDF) was not established until 1939 at the beginning of World War II; in 1943, New Zealand helped train about 2,000 Tongan troops who saw action in the Solomon Islands; the TDF was disbanded at the end of the war, but was reactivated in 1946 as the Tonga Defense Services (TDS); in 2013, the name of the TDS was changed to His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga (HMAF); Tongan troops deployed to Iraq from 2004-2008 and Afghanistan to support UK forces from 2010-2014

Tonga has a "shiprider" agreement with the US, which allows local maritime law enforcement officers to embark on US Coast Guard (USCG) and US Navy (USN) vessels, including to board and search vessels suspected of violating laws or regulations within Tonga's designated exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas; "shiprider" agreements also enable USCG personnel and USN vessels with embarked USCG law enforcement personnel to work with host nations to protect critical regional resources (2024)