This beautiful country found in the continent of Oceania has a variety of places ready for you to explore. Based on its location, it boasts of the cleanest deep inviting waters that house the most beautiful corals, walls and caves waiting to be explored. Not only is it every divers dream, but also every surfer’s paradise. The Ha’atafu beach resort is the best place and always packed, especially during surf breaks. After the different water activities you may want to learn more about the heritage in this country by visiting The Tonga National Museum. In this museum you get to see different potteries and royal collection pieces.
Important and Interesting Facts about Tonga
- Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 176 islands with a 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.
- Tonga stretches over about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south line about a third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaii.
- It is surrounded by Fiji and Wallis and Futuna (France) to the northwest, Samoa to the northeast, Niue to the east, Kermadec (part of New Zealand) to the southwest, and New Caledonia (France) and Vanuatu to the farther west
- Administratively, Tonga is sub-divided into five divisions: ʻEua, Haʻapai, Niuas, Tongatapu, and Vavaʻu.
- Tongans enjoy a relatively high level of education, with a 98.9% literacy rate, and higher education up to and including medical and graduate degrees (pursued mostly overseas).
- Whale watching is one of the top tourist attractions in Tonga. It’s something you can experience from June until November of each year. During these months, humpback whales travel to Vava’u so they could breed.
- There are many things to look forward to in the city of Nuku’alofa first off is the Tonga Royal Palace where King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV lives. You can also visit the city’s Talamahu markets where a variety of fresh produce are sold. Or, you can drop by the Langafonua Women’s Handicraft Centre to get handmade items as souvenirs. The Royal Tombs is also one of the top tourist attractions in Tonga and it’s not too far from the city proper. It is a place where former kings and queens of the country were buried.
- Sailing is a popular activity in Tonga, particularly around the Vava’u group of islands. Vava’u has a reliable network of waterways, peaceful islands, and a large natural harbour. The perfect time to go sailing in Vava’u is between June and November when humpback whales visit its waters.
- Lavengatonga is best known for its limestone caves which are among the best tourist spots in Tonga. The caves feature long stretches of stalagmites and stalactites which continue for some distance. At the end of the caves you will find deep, freshwater pools. Lavengatonga is located 24 km from the capital.
- The primary island has a number of tricks up its sleeve, such as the spectacular blowholes along the south western coastline. You’ll ind four miles of coast with countless blowholes that can spout water 30 meters high. Go ahead and take bus from Nukualofa towards the village of Houma (Half an hour) and make sure to be there at high tide for any truly spectacular view.
- Vava’u is a group of about 50 tiny islands, many of them coral atolls. Given the geological particularities the hawaiian islands, there are many deep passages with the rocks and hidden bays, meaning the best way to explore them is as simple as water. Rent a speedboat and explore Swallows Cave, snorkel at Coral Gardens or Mariners Cave or go to the miniature but lovely Nuku Island.
Cool and Funny Facts about Tonga
- A brother and a sister can never be in the same room alone as it implies incest.
- The day after a couple is married, the groom’s female relatives take the sheets off of the couple’s bed and take it to the groom’s parents. They show the sheets to his parents and if the sheets are stained with hymen blood, then they know she was a virgin.
- The first question out of everyone’s mouth here is ‘alu ki fe? Where are you going? I hear it at least 20 times a day. It’s another way of saying hello.
- You can’t go swimming on Sundays and all stores are closed for the Sabbath. You can get arrested for swimming or doing laundry on Sunday.
- Tongans won’t walk in the bush at night because they’re afraid of the devil (ghosts).
- Just talking with a girl or being alone with her implies that you’re together.
- Tongans enjoy beating things. Husbands beat their wives, parents beat their children, teachers beat the students, and everyone beats the animals. This is no lie, dogs are so used to getting beaten here that they are quite vicious and try to attack strangers. But, all you have to do is bend down like you’re picking up a rock and they run.
- Girls usually do not wear anything above their ankles or show their shoulders.
- Some guys are always drunk on kava from morning until night and even the some ministers get drunk before church. Somehow this is ok but I can’t go swimming on Sunday.
- Tongans bathe regularly, but their favorite way to bathe is in the rain.
- They make their own liquor out of sugar and yeast – it can make one go blind if not kill them.
- Any illness that cannot be explained is attributed to the devil. Sometimes when someone gets sick they think it’s because their dead relatives are upset so they go dig them up and clean their bones.
Historical and Cultural Facts about Tonga
- Polynesians have lived on Tonga for at least 3,000 years. The Dutch were the first to explore the islands, landing on Tafahi in 1616. British explorer James Cook landed on islands in 1773 and 1777 and dubbed them the Friendly Islands.
- The current royal dynasty of Tonga was founded in 1831 by Taufa’ahau Tupou, who took the name George I. He consolidated the kingdom by conquest and in 1875 granted a constitution. In 1900, his great-grandson, George II, signed a treaty of friendship with Britain, and the country became a British protected state. The treaty was revised in 1959. Tonga became independent on June 4, 1970.
- The government is largely controlled by the king, his nominees, and a small group of hereditary nobles. In the 1990s a movement began aimed at curtailing the powers of the monarchy, and the Tongan Pro-Democracy Movement (TPDM) has continued to gain in popular support. In 1999, Tonga gained UN membership.
- The king’s official court jester, American Jesse Bogdonoff, a former salesman of magnets to relieve back pain, was sued by the government in 2002 for squandering $26 million of Tonga’s money (40% of its annual revenue) in unsound investment schemes. In 2004, he agreed to pay a $1 million settlement.
- The Tongan creation myth describes how the islands were fished from the ocean by Maui, one of the three major gods. Another myth explains how ‘Aho’eitu became the first Tu’i Tonga (king). He was the son of a human female and the god Tangaloa. Human and divine at the same time, the Tu’i Tonga was the embodiment of the Tongan people, and this is still a powerful metaphor.
- Both in villages and in the main towns, food is the occasion for a family gathering only at the end of the day. Otherwise, food is consumed freely at any time. The basic staples are root crops like taro accompanied by fried or roasted meat or fish. Taro leaves are one of the various green vegetables used together with a variety of tropical fruits like bananas, pineapples, and mangoes.
- Formal attire for men includes a tupenu (skirt) and a ta’ovala (mat) worn around one’s waist and kept in place by a belt of coconut fiber. Prestigious old belts made of human hair also are used. A shirt with a tie and a jacket complete the attire. Women wear long dresses and ta’ovala as well. The softness, color, and decorations of a ta’ovala indicate status and wealth.
- People shake hands when they meet, and relatives kiss by pressing each other’s noses against their faces and soundly inhaling through the nose. The men preparing the ‘umu or roasting for a big feast do not eat with the guests and are allowed at the table only when the first round of people has finished eating and left. Most food is eaten with the hands, although silverware also is used. It is customary to wash one’s hands at the beginning and end of a meal.
- Christian churches exist in even the most remote villages. Bells or log drums call people for services at the crack of dawn. After a failed attempt by Wesleyan missionaries to Christianize the islands in 1797, they and other Christian missionaries were more successful in the mid-nineteenth century. Forty-four percent of Tongans belong to the Free Wesleyan Church.
- Women make bark cloth that can reach fifty feet in length and fifteen feet in width. The design of the carved tablets used to decorate bark cloth is traditionally purely geometrical. Naturalistic figures such as trees, flowers, and animals are also used. Women also weave mats and make flax baskets.
- Choral singing is done in churches and kava clubs. Singing is part of the more holistic traditional art of faiva , the blending of dance, music, and poetry. The punake (master poet) composes pieces that combine music, text, and body movements. Traditional dances include the Me’etu’upaki (paddle dance), the Tau’olunga (solo dance), and the Lakalaka (line dance).
- The birth of a child is among the most important events, but the official social introduction of a child to the community is celebrated only at the end of a child’s first year. Mothers increasingly give birth in modern hospitals, and infant mortality has decreased. Infants typically are breast-fed and sleep in their parents’ bed until age 5 to 8 years.