The Kingdom of Tonga is one of the most beautiful, untouched
by modern society places in the world. A Polynesian country, it
lies south-east of Fiji, near the international date line, and
consists of four main island groups with a total land area of
700 square kilometers. Here one can escape to deserted beaches
where, between snorkeling in untouched coral gardens and sipping
coconut juice, the island breeze itself is therapeutic.
This ancient Polynesian kingdom is one of the world’s few remaining
constitutional monarchies, renowned for its friendliness and gentle
pace of life. Ruled by King Taufa’ahau IV, only 37 of Tonga’s
idyllic islands are inhabited. The main island is Tongatapu in
the south, home to the capital of Nuku’alofa and the Royal Palace.
To the north lies the Ha’apai group, a chain of atolls surrounded
by turquoise wasters, and further north is the Vava’u group with
its lush tropical landscape and limestone caves.
Tonga is a traditional Polynesian society which preserves many
ancient traditions alongside modern economic policies. Within
the extended family, all wealth, belongings and work is shared.
Tongan people are devoutly religious and Sunday is a day of rest
devoted to church activities and relaxation. Culture remains strong
in tonga and the people are used to the simple life. .
Tonga is an island nation in the South Pacific, northeast of
New Zealand. It has 170 islands spread out over hundreds of miles,
and the biggest island is Tongatabu in the south, where the capital
city of Nuku Alofa is located. These islands were never fully
colonized by a European country, and the people are proud to have
maintained their culture over the years.
Most Tongans live a stereotypical South Pacific island lifestyle,
living in small houses in small villages, and growing their own
coconuts, cassavas, and passionfruit, going fishing in their boats
on the warm tropical seas, and attending church faithfully (most
are Free Wesleyan, Catholic, or Mormon). Because things are so
laid back in Tonga, there aren’t any major environmental problems.
Tourists go to Tonga for the beaches and the water sports, but
they haven’t had any significant negative effects on the situation.
Many Tongans leave the islands to get out of their subsistence
agriculture lifestyle and make some decent money in New Zealand.
Tonga has a very similar climate to Hawaii. Tonga is far enough
away from the equator to enjoy a more comfortable climate than
the Samoas or the Solomons, and winter (July to September) temperatures
are pleasantly cool at 17 °C to 22 °C (62 °F to 71
°F), although rainstorms and strong southerlies can cause
decidedly wintry weather. From December to April, the southern
summer, temperatures rise to 25 °C to 33 °C (77 °F
to 91 °F), although nights can still be cool. A light breeze
often tempers the humidity, and the islands receive most of their
annual rainfall late in the season.
Tongan food is delightful, and consists mostly of root vegetables
such as taro and sweet potato, coconut products, fresh fruit,
roasted suckling pig, chicken, corned beef, fish and shellfish.
The delicious dishes made from these ingredients are an excuse
in themselves to visit the islands. The traditional Tongan feast
gets cooked in an underground oven, umu, common throughout Polynesia.
The most refreshing drink available is coconut juice.
Tonga’s warm, sheltered waters provide an ideal winter habitat
for humpback whales migrating from their summer feeding grounds
in Antarctica. Each year these whales travel thousands of kilometres
to mate, give birth to and nurse their young in Tongan waters.
Other species of whales live in Tonga year around. Dolphins are
often spotted around the islands.
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