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Tuesday 25th June
Tonga Information - Page 2
Polynesians have lived in Tonga for over three thousand years. The history of its monarchy can be traced back for over a thousand years.

In the thirteenth century Tonga was an important power with influence over other islands in the South Pacific.

The Dutch were the first Europeans to visit Tonga and Captain Cook, the British navigator, arrived in the archipelago in the 1770s.

Methodist missionaries from England converted the people to Christianity in the 1830s.

In 1900 Tonga became a British Protectorate, gaining more autonomy in 1958. Tonga achieved independence in 1970 but retained ties with Britain through the Commonwealth.

A large percentage of Tonga's labour force is employed in the agricultural sector. Products include coconuts, copra, bananas, watermelons, pumpkins, taro, cassava, rice, groundnuts, cocoa, coffee, vanilla beans, black pepper and ginger.

Fishing is an important industry. Other industries are construction, wood products, clothing, textiles, leather goods and food processing.

Remittances, money sent from Tongans overseas, play an important role in the economy. Tourism, another major earner of foreign currency, has potential for development.

Craft products on the Tongan islands include woven pandanus mats and baskets, and colourful tapa cloth. Traditionally, pictures painted on tapa (cloth made from beaten tree bark) record historical events of the Tongan people.

Music, song and dance are a feature of traditional Tongan ceremonies. Story telling has transmitted history and cultural values from generation to generation.

Rugby, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball are popular in Tonga. Other sports include cricket, tennis, athletics and judo. Boxing is a traditional sport.

The seas around the islands are known for water sports such as scuba diving, surfing and sailing.

Tonga is also a good destination for big-game fishing. Visitors can fish for marlin, tuna and sailfish.

Easter, Christmas and New Year are holidays. Other days celebrated include ANZAC Day - 25 April, Independence Day - 4 June (1970) and the monarch's birthday.

News is available from Newslink.

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