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Thursday 22nd March
Tonga Information - Page 1
The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago of around 170 islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It is two thousand two hundred and fifty kilometers northeast of New Zealand and east of Fiji.

The Kingdom is divided into the island groups of Ha'apai, Tongatapu and Vava'u.

Nuku'alofa, in the island group of Tongatapu, is the capital city and the main port.

The islands are mainly raised coral limestone with some islands of volcanic origin.

Tonga has a tropical maritime climate.

Protected areas include 'Eua, Tonga's first National Park, with four hundred and fifty hectares of rainforest, and National Marine Reserves.

There are a number of wetlands such as Fanga'uta and Fangakakau Lagoon, Kao Crater Lake, Lake Ano and Ngofe Marsh.

Various species of birds, fruit bats, iguanas and a variety of marine life are found in the archipelago. The waters of the islands are breeding grounds for the humpback whale.

Ha'amonga'a Maui is one of Tonga's protected areas. Thirty-two kilometers from Nuku'alofa (Tongatapu), the structure was built at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Consisting of two upright pillars and a lintel, the trilithon, thought to have been used to determine the longest and shortest day of the year, is now the gateway of an archeological reserve.

Houses and meeting places on Tonga were traditionally constructed using local materials such as trunks from coconut trees. Some wooden Colonial style buildings can be seen in the capital including the Royal Palace on Nuku'alofa's seafront.

The population of Tonga was estimated at 105,916 in 2011.

Languages spoken are Tongan and English.

Tonga is a Christian country. There are over thirty thousand members of the Free Wesleyan Church. Other churches include the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Free Church of Tonga, the Seventh Day Adventists and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Chicken, pork and fish are eaten with taro and sweet potatoes. Rice is available and squash, breadfruit and tomatoes are cultivated.

Traditionally, suckling pig is roasted in an underground oven or umu.

Tropical fruits grown include bananas, citrus fruits, mangoes, pineapples and watermelons.

Coconut milk, a popular drink, is also used in cooking.

Coffee is grown and beer is available. Kava, made from the roots of piper methysticum, is the traditional drink.

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