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Tonga

Tonga - Fat States
The Kingdom of Tonga is located in the western Pacific, and means “sacred island” in the local dialect. Covering a total land area of 747 square kilometers, Tonga is home to a population of 101,000, the vast majority of whom are Tongans. Residents are Christian, and Tongan and English are the most common languages. The currency is the panga, and the capital is Nuku'alofa. It is the closest from the international date line west of the capital. Tonga Map

Tonga Flag

History

The land has been inhabited for 3000 years, with four dynasties since AD 950. In 1845, George Tupou I, Taufaahau established his dynasty, but during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Netherlands, Britain, and Spain invaded. In the 19th century the island was converted to Christianity, and in 1900 became a British protectorate. On June 4, 1970, Tonga declared independent and became a member of the Commonwealth.

Economy and Cultural Customs

Tonga is industrially underdeveloped, with agriculture dominating the economy; half of the population are engaged in agricultural based employment. Cultivation and export of copra, bananas, and pineapple occurs, and the island has rich fishery resources. Tourism is also an important source of government revenue.

In 1886, Tonga began issuing stamps, the first of which was round and caused the philatelists of the time great excitement and interest. Over 50 different types of special-shaped stamps were later issued, included round, triangle, and diamond shapes, with such irregularity making them known worldwide.
Tongan people are often considered to be fat, with Tongan women seen as having large waists and short necks. This has earned the country the reputation of the “fat country.”When the people of Tonga receive guests, the hostess will personally make a wreath to hang around the visitor’s neck, as a welcoming gesture. The Tongans also will wear a skirt of soft and beautiful bark, which is the specialty of Tonga and the South Pacific.

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