The Kingdom of TONGA is a Polynesian island nation of 52 inhabited islands.. The Tongan language is a fairly standard Polynesian language, related to Maori, Tahitian, Fijian etc. and more distantly to Malay, Javanese and the Philipino languages.

It became independent of the UK in 1970 on a friendly basis.

Population a little over 100 000. Area 290 sq miles (750 sq km). 70pc of Tongans live on Tongatapu. (Tapu may mean 'holy', as in t a b o o

GDP fell catatropically from 2008 ($7,000 per head) to $3,000 per head in 2009.

Captain Cook visited it in 1773.

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