Tonga : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
73 years
Primary enrolment: 

105,000 (2013); 24 per cent of people live in urban areas; growth 0.4 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 25 per 1,000 people (37 in 1970); life expectancy 73 years (65 in 1970).

The vast majority of the people are of Polynesian descent. Tonga suffers from heavy emigration, mostly to New Zealand, Australia and the USA. There are 50,478 Tongans living in New Zealand, more than half of whom were born there (2006 New Zealand census).


Tongan and English are official languages.


Mainly Christians (Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Church of Tonga, Free Church of Tonga).


Public spending on health was five per cent of GDP in 2012. There are public hospitals on the islands of Tongatapu, Ha’apai and Vava’u, and dispensaries throughout the islands. Some 99 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 91 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). Over time, the Tongan diet has moved away from traditional root crops to imported foods. Infant mortality was ten per 1,000 live births in 2013.


There are nine years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Primary school comprises six years and secondary six, with cycles of four and two years. More than 95 per cent of primary students attend state schools, while about 90 per cent of secondary students attend church schools. Some 90 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2005). The school year starts in February.

Tonga is a partner in the regional University of the South Pacific, which has its main campus in Suva, Fiji, and a campus at ’Atele, about 7 km from Nuku’alofa, where some 1,400 students are enrolled each semester for preliminary, foundation and degree courses, using the university’s distance-learning facilities. Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 99 per cent (2006).


Newspapers include Tonga Chronicle (state-owned weekly), and Times of Tonga (published in New Zealand). Matangi Tonga is an online news service.

Tonga Broadcasting Commission provides public radio and TV services; there are several private radio stations and a cable TV channel.

There are 59 personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).


Country code 676; internet domain ‘.to’. Mobile phone coverage is limited to Nuku’alofa. There are several internet cafés in Nuku’alofa and Neiafu. The main post office is in Nuku’alofa, with branches on Ha’apai and Vava’u.

For every 1,000 people there are 294 landlines, 546 mobile phone subscriptions and 350 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, ANZAC Day (25 April), Emancipation Day (4 June), Crown Prince’s Birthday (12 July), King’s Birthday (1 August), Constitution Day (4 November), Tupou I Day (4 December), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Good Friday and Easter Monday.