Tongans have always retained control of their own government.
Tonga's economy is characterized by heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S., as well as foreign aid.
Environmental issues facing Tonga include deforestation, as land is cleared for agriculture and settlement, and damage to coral reefs from starfish and indiscriminate coral and shell collectors.
The Tongan words for homosexuals are fakaleit? (like a lady) and fakatangata (like a man).
Everyday life in Tonga is heavily influenced by the Christian faith.
Young Tongans can be heavily influenced by black, American youth culture in their dress, slang, body language, and music, especially hip-hop.
By the twelfth century, Tongans and their paramount chief, the Tu'i Tonga, were known across the South Pacific.
Tonga is the oldest known site in Polynesia for Lapita ceramic ware, with samples dating back 2,800 years.
Dutch explorers Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire were the first Europeans to arrive (1616), landing on one of Tonga's northern islands.
Success for a Tongan means the ability to contribute to the extended family and to fulfill community obligations.
Taufa'ahau, an ambitious young warrior, strategist, and orator, united Tonga into a Polynesian kingdom by 1845.
Abel Tasman visited Tongatapu and nearby Ha'apai in 1643.
The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital of Nuku'alofa is located, at 257 kmІ comprises more than a third of the nation's area.
Pro-democracy leaders have been jailed, and in mid-2003 the government amended the constitution to require newspapers to be 80 percent-owned by Tongans living in the kingdom.
Settled for more than 2,800 years, Tonga is part of the cradle of Polynesian civilization (along with Samoa and Fiji).
Tongans, a Polynesian group with a small mixture of Melanesians, represent more than 98 percent of the inhabitants.
Tonga's population of more than 110,000 is nearly the same as that on the Hawaiian island of Maui, but on a quarter of Maui's land area.
Tongan styles of sport, especially in netball and rugby, have influenced the way the games are played in New Zealand.
Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well-developed social services.
Significant Tongan communities in the U.S. exist in California, Hawaii, Texas, and Utah.
Almost two-thirds of Tonga's population lives on the main island.
Tongans are well-educated, with a 98 percent literacy rate.
The royal government of Tonga claims credit for modernizing the economy.
Tongan performers who have achieved international success include Pauly Fuemoana of OMC (?tara Millionaires’ Club), and the operatic tenor Ben Makisi who adapted his knowledge of Tongan musical notation to explore European classical music.
Many small businesses, particularly retail establishments on Tongatapu, have become dominated by Chinese immigrants who arrived under the cash-for-passports scheme that ended in 1998.
Geologically, the Tongan islands are either volcanic in origin rising directly from the ocean floor or seismically uplifted coral limestone overlaying an older volcanic base (such as Tongatapu).
Tonga became a British-protected state under a treaty of friendship in 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king.
The Tongan archipelago consists of 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, lying along a general north-south line about 800 km in length.
The country's name comes from the Tongan word for "south."
The first settlers in Tonga sailed from the Solomon Islands, a part of the original "Lapita culture" migration of Austronesian-speaking peoples out of Southeast Asia that began 6,000 years ago.
Many Tongans have migrated to Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. to seek employment and a higher standard of living.
The British Captain Cook visited three times in the 1770s, Fletcher Christian led the mutiny of the HMS Bounty in Tongan waters in 1789, and the first London missionaries landed in 1797.