Tonga at a Glance

Tonga comprises four archipelagoes located just west of the International Dateline between 15ºS and 23ºS and 173ºW and 177ºW.

Population: 102,000
No. of Islands: 171
No. of Inhabited Islands: 36
Land Area (in sq km): 688
Territorial Sea (in sq km): 362,500
Time Zone: UTC+13
Telephone Country Code: 676
Electricity: 240V AC, 50Hz

 

Most government offices close for lunch on workdays.  All businesses close on
Sundays except bakeries, some restaurants, and resorts.

Exchange Rates (as of July 2015)

Tongan Currency, pa’anga, TOP$1=100 seniti
Australia A$1=TOP$1.80
Canada C$1=TOP$1.66
Euro Zone €1=TOP$2.34
Fiji F$1=TOP$1.03
Japan ¥100=TOP$1.80
New Zealand NZ$1=TOP$1.47
United States US$1=TOP$2.21

Telephones

TCC and privately owned Digicel operate cellular networks.  Pre-paid cellular telephones are an option for extended visits and can be purchased in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu.

Government

Constitutional monarchy in which the king has absolute power.  One-house legislature, comprising an appointed speaker, the cabinet, nine nobles (chosen by Tonga’s 33 hereditary nobles) and nine representatives (elected by taxpayers over age 21).  Elections are held every three years.

Town and district officers preside over villages and groups of villages.  Tonga Defence Services include the Royal Tongan Marines, Tonga Royal Guards, the Maritime Force, and the Police.

Judiciary System

The Court of Appeals is highest, consisting of a Privy Council and the Chief Justice.  It is followed by the Supreme Court, Land Court (Chief Justice also presides), and Magistrates’ Court.  In criminal justice, the defendant may choose trial by jury or judge.

Leading Exports

Squash pumpkin, Tomatoes, Coconut products, Watermelons, Vanilla beans, Limes, Peppers, and Kava

Transportation & Driving

Depending on the island, transportation is by taxi, bus, bicycle rental, or car rental—most visitors use taxis.  International and foreign driver licenses are not valid in Tonga.

Persons wishing to rent a car or scooter must purchase a Tongan Driving License from the police station in Nuku’alofa or Neiafu.  Tests are not mandatory if a valid license from another country is presented.  Applicants must present such proof and a valid passport.  License fees are typically T$10 for scooters and T$45 for cars.

Passenger ferries operate daily between Nuku’alofa and ‘Eua; weekly between Nuku’alofa, Ha’apai, and Vava’u; and every three months between Nuku’alofa and Niuatoputapu.  Schedules and fares are available at the Tonga Visitors Bureau.

RealTonga Airlines provides inter-island flights between the primary islands of each archipelago.

Distances

Nuku’alofa (Tongatapu) and:

Auckland, NZ: 1,080nm
Honolulu, HI: 2,735nm
Los Angeles, CA: 4,627nm
Raiatea, French Polynesia: 1,400nm
Rarotonga, Cook Islands: 860nm
Sydney, AUS: 1,929nm

Neiafu (Vava’u) and:

Apia, Western Samoa: 315nm
Suva, Fiji: 435nm

Inter-Island:

Tongatapu – ‘Eua 22nm
Tongatapu – Ha’apai 86nm
Tongatapu – Vava’u 165nm
Ha’apai – Vava’u 61nm
Vava’u – Niuatoputapu 160nm

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