Hufangalupe beach in Tonga

Tonga : History

Tonga is two roughly parallel chains of around 170 islands in the south-western Pacific. Neighbouring countries include Fiji to the west, Cook Islands to the east and Samoa north. Only 36 islands are inhabited. Tonga’s western islands are volcanic (four with active volcanoes) and sit well above sea level. Those to the east are coral and are more low-lying.  

Key facts

  • Region: Pacific
  • Population: 103,200 (2018) 
  • Area: 748 square kilometres 
  • Capital: Nuku’alofa 
  • Joined Commonwealth: 1970, on withdrawing from British protectorate 
  • Commonwealth Youth Index: 18 out of 49 countries 

Secretariat support for Tonga 

Human rights 

In September 2018, a Secretariat workshop helped people working in human rights in Tonga to improve their skills to talk with government. The workshop also helped participants improve monitoring and reporting on human rights issues. 

At a working session in April 2019, the Secretariat helped Tonga to report on human rights in the country under the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. One expert and 15 members of Tonga’s Legislative Assembly and its staff took part. 


The Secretariat is helping young Tongan leaders to become involved in politics and development processes. It has also helped Tonga include young people in tackling unemployment and inequality in the region. 

Sustainable development 

In June 2019, a Commonwealth forum helped Tonga build its knowledge on sustainable energy. The Commonwealth also gave advice to Tonga on managing and benefiting from its natural resources, for example, seabed minerals. 


The Commonwealth’s Geneva office helped Tonga build skills in international trade negotiations.

Blue Charter

Tonga is a member of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance and Marine Protected Areas Action Groups.

Connectivity Agenda

Tonga is a member of the Supply Side Connectivity cluster of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda. The Connectivity Agenda is a platform for countries to exchange best practices and experiences to trade and investment and undertake domestic reform.

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