Tonga – A Place2018-08-25T11:39:39+00:00

Tonga – A Place


Tonga Flag

Continent: Oceania

Founded: 4 June 1970

Population:  102,321 (2000)

Literacy: 99.39% (2011)

Tonga is officially the Kingdom of Tonga. It is an island nation. Tonga is part of a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It is about two-thirds of the way between the Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand.

The island chain spans about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from north to south. There are 169 to 177 islands. The islands are split into three different groups. Tongatapu is the southern group. Ha’apai is the central group. Vava’u is the northern group. A few isolated islands exist outside of the main groups. They are far to the north or south.

Only thirty-six of the islands are large enough for people to live on them.

The capital, Nuku’alofa, is located on the northern coast of Tongatapu. That is the largest island of the Tongatapu group.

Modern Tonga

Tonga Children

Tonga Children

The Tongan population consists almost entirely of ethnic Polynesians.

Some people have small amounts of Micronesian heritage mixed in. This is likely through early and ongoing contact with Fiji. This mixture of Polynesian and Melanesian makes up 98% of the population. The remaining 2% are made up of Europeans and those of mixed European and Polynesian heritage.

The main languages spoken are Tongan and English. Tongan is the official language of the country. It is a Polynesian language closely related to Samoan and Hawaiian.

Tonga Prehistory

The first people to live on Tonga arrived between 1500 BC and 1000 BC.

Tonga Drums

Traditional Tonga Drums

They were part of the vast Polynesian expansion. This movement of peoples brought people to Samoa, Hawaii, and even Easter Island.

The first Tongans spoke an Austronesian language. Their language may be the ancestor of modern Polynesian languages. Other examples are Samoan and Hawaiian.

By the 1100s, the Tongans were well known in all of Polynesia. Their chief was the Tu’i Tonga. Some historians think of Tu’i Tonga’s kingdom as an empire. A few centuries later, between the 1400s and the 1600s, civil war broke out. With that the empire fell apart.

Toga History

First contact with Europeans was made by Dutch explorers. They arrived in 1616. The famous explorer James Cook of England visited on each of his three voyages. Alessandro Malaspina of Spain also visited. Contact continued into the 1700s and 1800s.

Methodist missionaries came from England in the late 1700s. By 1831, they had converted much of the population. That included the chief of the kingdom.

In 1875, Tonga became a constitutional monarchy. It was modeled on similar European governments of the time. Between 1900 and 1970, Tonga was a British protected state. This was under a treaty with Great Britain.

However, Tonga has always kept its own national self rule. It is the only major Polynesian nation to do so. In 1970, Togo gained independence from Britain.


This section is under development.


Genographic ProjectGeno 2.0 Data

Data from Geno 2.0 is derived from the The National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project — the DAR. The Hg ID is specific to this site and is used to protect the identities of those who take part in Genographic research. Birth Country, Mother's Birth Country, and Maternal Grandmother's Birth Country have been normalized from DAR database fields. The Maternal Origin is determined based on the three previous fields.

Note: Geno 2.0 results currently use Phylotree build 16. I am working on changing results over to build 17.

Hg IDHg Build 16Birth CountryMother's Birth CountryMaternal Grandmother's Birth Country

Sources & Resources

Sione Latukefu and Sophie Foster. (2018). The Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from

CIA Staff. (2018). The World Factbook. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, May 26). Tuʻi Tonga Empire. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from

Wikipedia contributors. (2018, August 14). Tonga. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 20, 2018, from

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