Cruising to Tonga


The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. It became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900. Tonga acquired its independence in 1970 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.


Location: Oceania, archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 20 00 S, 175 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 748 sq km


419 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


Tropical; modified by trade winds; warm season (December to May), cool season (May to December)


Most islands have limestone base formed from uplifted coral formation; others have limestone overlying volcanic base

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: unnamed location on Kao Island 1,033 m


Tonga, a small, open, South Pacific island economy, has a narrow export base in agricultural goods. Squash, coconuts, bananas, and vanilla beans are the main crops, and agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The country remains dependent on external aid and remittances from Tongan communities overseas to offset its trade deficit. Tourism is the second-largest source of hard currency earnings following remittances.

The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment, and is committing increased funds for health and education. Tonga has a reasonably sound basic infrastructure and well-developed social services. High unemployment among the young, a continuing upturn in inflation, pressures for democratic reform, and rising civil service expenditures are major issues facing the government.


Airports: 6 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 1
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 5
Roadways: total: 680 km

Merchant marine

Total: 20 ships (1000 GRT or over) 102,427 GRT/148,871 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 12, liquefied gas 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 1
Foreign-owned: 5 (Australia 1, Norway 1, Switzerland 1, UK 1, US 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals


Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

American Samoa - Australia - Cook Island - Easter Islands (Chile) - Federation of Micronesia - Fiji - Guam - USA (Hawaii)  - Kiribati - Marshall Islands - Nauru - New Caledonia - New Zealand - Niue - Norfolk Island - Northern Mariana Islands - Palau - Papua New Guinea - Pitcairn Island - Samoa - Solomon Island - Tokelau - Tonga - Tuvalu - Vanuatu - Wallis and Futuna

Further Reading

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