The History of Tonga

Categories: Natural Disasters

The history of Tonga starts in about 1616 when Dutch explorers visited there, and there have been many events since then that have been significant to the country. A few of these include the monarchy being established, becoming a British protectorate, declaring independence, joining the United Nations, and experiencing natural disasters.

In 1875, Tonga was declared a constitutional monarchy by George Tupou I. This was significant because it limited the power of the chiefs and king. Shortly after this, in 1900, Tonga became a British protectorate; meaning a dependent territory that is granted some independence.

For example, under the “Treaty of Friendship” Tonga agreed to let the British consul have power over finances and foreign policy. This was essentially done to discourage German advances.

One of the biggest historical events in Tongan history is when they became fully independent. This took place in 1970. They became a nation within the Commonwealth which is an association comprising the United Kingdom and many other former dependencies. King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was king during this time.

Twenty-nine years later Tonga joined the United Nations.

Tonga is a part of the ring of fire making it prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. In 2009 a tsunami killed ten people and destroyed several villages. It was caused by an underwater earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3. In February 2018, tropical cyclone Gita hit Tonga and caused a lot of damage. Over 171 homes were destroyed and many were injured. It is the strongest storm to hit Tonga that has been recorded.

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In recent years, there has been a lot of protest for democratic reform. They wanted to change the system to make it more democratic. One instance of this happened in November of 2006. It occurred in the capital where eight people were killed and a lot of the business district was destroyed during the rioting. A state of emergency was declared.


The birth rate is one demographic statistic that can play a big role in a country’s population growth rate. Tonga is ranked the 69th country with the highest birth rate. Their birth rate is 21.8 births per 1,000. This means that in one year, there are approximately 21.8 live births for 1,000 people. Many factors can affect the birth rate of a country. A few of these include the cost of raising and educating children, women’s employment, religious and cultural beliefs, and government policies.

The death rate also plays a part in the population growth rate. The death rate in Tonga is 4.9 deaths per 1,000, making it the 199th country for high death rates. This is a relatively low death rate. Part of this is because of the good healthcare systems in Tonga. Because of Tonga’s high birth rate and low death rate we know that it is an increasing population and developing country.

The literacy rate in Tonga is 99.4 %. The literacy rate is defined as the percentage of people who can read and write. Education in Tonga consists of three levels: primary, junior secondary, and senior secondary. The first eight years are required and are free for students 6-14. Because education is required by law, the literacy rate is high.

The infant mortality rate is “the number of deaths per 1,000 live births of children under one year of age.” (Wikipedia) In Tonga, this number is 10.9 deaths per 1,000 births. Compared to the world infant mortality rate (29/1000 as of 2017), Tonga’s rate is low. One reason for this could be a good education. Education has proven to be one of the biggest factors determining the infant mortality rate.

The life expectancy in Tonga is 76.6 years. This makes it the 85th highest in the world. Overall, Tonga has a good health system that most people have access to. This along with other aspects such as education and employment affect life expectancy.

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The History of Tonga. (2022, Jul 25). Retrieved from

The History of Tonga
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