Tonga Economy and History


Tonga depends on outside help

Tonga cannot survive economically as a country and is dependent on help from abroad. Unemployment is high, especially among young people. There are just not many opportunities for work.

Many people make a living from agriculture

Many people are still employed in agriculture or make a living from fishing. All that is exported is agricultural products and fish. But the large fleets that empty the fish stocks in the South Pacific are also causing problems for Tonga. The land that people work often belongs to the nobles or the state. Most do not have their own land. This is unevenly distributed, even if people have actually learned to share.

Above all, tropical fruits such as bananas and coconuts, from which coconut oil is made, and vanilla pods are grown. The people of Tonga also eat sweet potatoes and cassava.

But Tonga not only has to import a lot of food, but also machines, vehicles of all kinds, clothing, oil and much more.

One of the country’s last kings – Tupou IV – and members of his family are said to have weakened Tonga’s economy through opaque deals. In between, for example, Tongan passports have been sold to the Chinese or toxic waste from the United States has been stored in Tonga. Against payment for the royal family, of course.

Natural disasters such as cyclones threaten the small islands

In addition to the economic problems, Tonga ranks second next to Vanuatu on the world risk index for natural disasters. Investing in a country that can be hit by disaster at any time is also a risk for investors. However, tourism is developing very slowly on Tonga, which could become another source of income for the country.

History and Politics

History of Tonga begins with the Lapita culture

People who came from the Fiji or Santa Cruz Islands probably settled on Tonga 3000 years ago. Finds of the Lapita culture on the islands, dating back to the first millennium BC, testify to this settlement. Begins. This culture is best known for certain patterns of pottery. This culture spread throughout the region. There were already relationships with other islands and archipelagos that are now called Samoa or Fiji.

Mighty kings of Tonga

The power of the kings of Tonga grew and spread to neighboring islands. The warriors of Tonga were traveling in canoes, in which more than 100 people could ride. The kings continued to expand their power. It only slowly disappeared in the 16th century.

First European

The Dutch were the first Europeans to come to Tonga. The famous explorer James Cook also stopped by on Tonga. The name “Islands of Friendship” supposedly comes from him because he was so friendly with the residents. However, it is said that they were not that friendly towards the intruders. Again and again, disputes broke out between individual tribes on the islands. But as a colony, Tonga did not want any of the seafaring powers.

Missionaries converted the residents to Christianity

But the Europeans continued to be interested in Tonga. They sent missionaries who once brought Christianity and along the way also brought some political ideas. Ultimately, a constitutional monarchy developed from a tribal principality. The first king was called King George Tupou I and that was in 1875.

In 1900 Tonga became a British protectorate, but the King of Tonga remained the ruler. Tonga was not involved in the turmoil of World War II and after the war it would be a few years before Tonga finally became independent. This happened in 1970. Tonga is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.

Kingdom of Tonga: King Tupou VI

King Tupou IV was king after the country gained independence. His power was very great because he appointed ministers and parliament. It was practically impossible to control him because he only filled the relevant positions with people who he thought would definitely support him. The royal family was doing very well, while the people of Tonga became poorer and poorer.

Development of Democracy in Tonga

From 1990 onwards, more and more people demanded democratization of the country. But it was only after the death of Tupou IV., Under his successor, Tupou V., democratic traits could prevail. This gave parliament greater power and ministers not only appointed by the king, but also elected by the people.

King Tupou VI of Tonga

After Tupou V’s death, he was followed by Tupou VI. But the country’s economic situation is still bad. It depends on help from abroad and also on the money sent by the emigrated Tongans. Growing tourism offers a small chance. Above all, he relies on international aid to make the country, which has been affected by climate change, better known.

Tonga History