Tonga

Region: Oceania-Polynesia

Capital: Nuku’alofa

Population: 106,440 (July 2014 CIA est.)

Surface area: 747 sq km

Currency: pa’anga (TOP)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $8,200 (2013 CIA est.)

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 (CIA 2014)

Economy – Overview:
Tonga has a small, open, South Pacific island economy. It has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, vanilla beans, and yams are the main crops. Agricultural exports, including fish, make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances. Tonga had 39,000 visitors in 2006. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well developed social services. High unemployment among the young, moderate inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government. (CIA, 2014)

Major Export Commodities: squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops

Remittances inflows: US $60 million USD (World Bank 2012 est.)

Human Development Index 2013 ranking: 95 out of 186 countries (UNDP 2013)

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners:
Net ODA US $78,260,000.
Major development partners include: Japan,Australia, New Zealand, IDA, AsDB Special Funds (OECD 2012)

Total External Debt: US $215.8 million (31 December 2013 CIA est.

Life Expectancy: 75.82 years (CIA 2014)

Environmental Indicators:
Endangered Species (as a % of all species): 8.5
Forested Area (percentage of land area): 12.5
CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 1.7
(UNDP 2013)

United Nations membership date: 14 September 1999

New York Mission:
Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations
250 East 51st Street
New York, N.Y. 10017 USA
Telephone: (917) 369-1025
Fax: (917) 369-1024
E-mail: tongaunmission@gmail.com

Sources:
CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov
World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org
Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org
Human Development Report 2013. United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Updated January 2015