Tonga

Region: Oceania-Polynesia

Capital: Nuku’alofa

Population: 104,500 (UNDP 2011)

Surface area: 748 sq km

Currency: pa’anga (TOP)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $7,500 (2011- 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.

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, and 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. 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, a continuing upturn in inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government. (CIA, 2012)

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

Remittances:66 million USD (World Bank 2011 est.)

Human Development Index 2011 ranking: 90 out of 187 countries

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners: Net ODA US $70 million.  Major development partners include: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, IDA, AsDB Special Funds (OECD 2010)

Total External Debt:$104.5 million (December 2009 – CIA est.)

Life Expectancy: 72.3 years

Environmental Indicators:

                                               Endangered Species (as a % of all species): 10 

                                               Forested Area (percentage of land area): 12.5

                                               CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita): 1.7

                                               (Data Source: UNDP 2011)

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

Website: www.un.int/tonga/

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 2011. United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Updated July 2012