|Flag||Coat of Arms|
|Monarch||King Tupou VI|
|Prime minister||ʻAkilisi Pohiva|
|GDP (2003/2004)||US$148.9 million|
|GDP per capita||US$1,287|
The Kingdom of Tonga is the last remaining Polynesian kingdom in the South Pacific. It consists of an archipelago located directly south of Samoa. Its 171 islands, 48 of them inhabited, are divided into three main groups—Vava'u, Ha'apai, and Tongatapu—and cover an 800-kilometer (500 mi.)-long north-south line.
Its largest and most populated island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku'alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometers (99 sq. mi.). Geologically the Tongan islands are of two types: most have a limestone base formed from uplifted coral formations; others consist of limestone overlaying a volcanic base.
Its population is about 100,000, mostly Christian and almost entirely Tongan in ethnicity. Their literacy rate is nearly 100%. Thanks to missionary work, about a third of Tongans are Mormon, making Tonga the place with the greatest concentration of Mormons outside Salt Lake City.
Its government is a Constitutional hereditary monarchy, based on a constitution drafted in 1875 and revised in 1970, when it obtained its independence from Britain. Its GDP is US$148.9 million, and its per capita GDP is US$1,287. Its major natural resource is fish.
Its Constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred forever, and businesses (including entertainment) close on Sunday each week.
Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. The state owns and operates 99% of the primary schools and 44% of secondary schools. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.
- Condensed Knowledge, New York: Random House, 2008.