and so received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, chiefs wanted to kill Cook during the gathering but could not agree on a plan. Tonga has never lost its sovereignty to a foreign power. In 2010, Tonga took a decisive step towards becoming a fully functioning constitutional monarchy, after legislative reforms paved the way for its first partial representative elections. Humans have lived in Tonga for nearly 3,000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. Before the arrival of European explorers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Tongans had frequent contacts with their nearest oceanic neighbours, Fiji and Niue. In the 19th century, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed, especially in religion, such that As of 2013 almost 98 percent of residents profess Christianity. The people discarded some old beliefs and habits and adopted others. Contemporary Tongans often have strong ties to overseas lands. Many Tongans have emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, or the United States to seek employment and a higher standard of living. More than 8,000 Tongans live in Australia.
Over 70% of the 101,991 inhabitants live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial centre, Nukuʻalofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties remain influential throughout the country. Despite emigration, Tonga grew in population from about 32,000 in the 1930s to more than 90,000 by 1976. Tonga's economy is characterised by a large non-
The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very small scale industries, which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened. The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognises that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Vavaʻu, which has a reputation for its whale watching, game fishing, surfing, beaches and is increasingly becoming a major player in the South Pacific tourism market.
Tonga's postage stamps, which feature colourful and often unusual designs (including heart-
In 2005, the country became eligible to become a member of the World Trade Organization. After an initial voluntary delay, Tonga became a full member of the WTO on 27 July 2007.
This photo was taken when the Edinburgh Tattoo visited Glasgow for the Tattoo promotions in 2009. Tonga officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 177 islands with a total surface area of about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean, of which 52 islands are inhabited by its 103,000 people. Seventy percent of Tongans reside on the main island of Tongatapu.Tonga stretches over about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-
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