Driving Directions Tonga
TONGA is situated about 20° south of the Equator and just west of the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. It comprises a low limestone chain of islands in the east and a higher volcanic chain.
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There are 170 islands, but only about 40 of them are inhabited. The climate is warm with substantial rainfall, and destructive cyclones are likely to occur every few years.
The government owns all the land, and males can rent an allotment for growing food. Yams, cassava, and taro are grown as subsistence crops, while fish from the sea supplement the islanders’ diet.
Pumpkins, bananas, vanilla, and coconuts were exported. The primary industry is coconut processing. About 70 percent of the workforce is occupied in either fishing or agriculture, while many Tongans are employed overseas.
Tourism, foreign aid (from countries such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand), and the income sent home from overseas workers contribute to the country’s economy.
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From north to south, the islands are clustered in three major groups: Vava’u to the north, Ha’apai in the middle, and Tongatapu to the south. There is also a smaller, more remote group, called the Niuas, situated farther north, and individual islands both to the north and south.
Tonga’s islands are the tops of submerged volcanoes, four of which are still active on Tofua and Niuafo‘ou. The islands of all the groups, from north to south, align into two parallel rows. Those in the western row are purely volcanic in origin; those in the eastern row consist of submerged volcanoes capped by coral and limestone formations.
Tonga is located in the South Pacific Ocean. The South Pacific Ocean surrounding Tonga is very seismically active. The region’s continuing seismic activity created a new island, called Metis Shoal, in 1995. The long underwater channel called the Tonga Trench is 10,800 meters (35,400 feet) deep. The trench, which reaches from Tonga to New Zealand, has one of the world’s greatest ocean depths. Several of Tonga’s islands are formed from coral reefs, and there are many other submerged reefs in the surrounding waters, including the Minerva Reefs at the islands’ southern end.
Did you know about Tonga?
Because it is immediately west of the International Dateline, Tonga is the first nation to greet each new day, leading to the saying, “Tonga is where time begins.” Tourists flocked to the islands on December 31, 1999, to be among the first to greet the new millennium.
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