This article is about the demographic features of the population of Tonga, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
Almost two-thirds of the population live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial center, Nukuʻalofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever. Other important Christian denominations include Methodists (Free Wesleyan) and Roman Catholics.
Tongans, a Polynesian group represent more than 98% of the inhabitants. The rest are European (the majority are British), mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are several hundred Chinese.
Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 83% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level education. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.
According to the CIA factbook on Tonga the population is 96.6% fully Tongan.
Based on 2006 estimates the religious breakdown of the population was Protestant 64.9% (includes Free Wesleyan Church 37.3%, Free Church of Tonga 11.4%, Church of Tonga 7.2%, Tokaikolo Christian Church 2.6%, Assembly of God 2.3%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.2%, Constitutional Church of Tonga 0.9%, Anglican 0.8% and Full Gospel Church 0.2%), Latter-day Saints 16.8%, Roman Catholic 15.6%, other 1.1%, none 0.03%, unspecified 1.7%.
As the 1960s ended the population growth rate fell very fast in the country.
In the 1930s Tonga had a population of about 32,000. Starting in the 1970s large scale migration began to Australia and New Zealand. By the 1970s the out-migration rate from Tonga to Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, France and the United States was at a rate of over 2% annually.
The Tongan archipelago has been inhabited for perhaps 3000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. The culture of its inhabitants has surely changed greatly over this long time period. Before the arrival of European explorers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Tongans were in frequent contact with their nearest Oceanic neighbors, Fiji and Samoa. In the 19th century, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed dramatically. Some old beliefs and habits were thrown away and others adopted. Some accommodations made in the 19th century and early 20th century are now being challenged by changing Western civilization. Hence Tongan culture is far from a unified or monolithic affair, and Tongans themselves may differ strongly as to what it is "Tongan" to do, or not do.
Contemporary Tongans often have strong ties to overseas lands. They may have been migrant workers in New Zealand, or have lived and traveled in New Zealand, Australia, or the United States. Many Tongans now live overseas, in a Tongan diaspora, and send home remittances to family members (often aged) who prefer to remain in Tonga. Tongans themselves often have to operate in two different contexts, which they often call anga fakatonga, the traditional Tongan way, and anga fakapālangi, the Western way. A culturally adept Tongan learns both sets of rules and when to switch between them.
Any description of Tongan culture that limits itself to what Tongans see as anga fakatonga would give a seriously distorted view of what people actually do, in Tonga, or in diaspora, because accommodations are so often made to anga fakapālangi. The following account tries to give both the idealized and the on-the-ground versions of Tongan culture.Outline of Oceania
The following outline is provided as an overview and topical guide to Oceania.
Oceania is a geographical, and geopolitical, region consisting of numerous lands—mostly islands in the Pacific Ocean and vicinity. The term is also sometimes used to denote a continent comprising Australia and proximate Pacific islands.The boundaries of Oceania are defined in a number of ways. Most definitions include parts of Australasia such as Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea, and parts of Maritime Southeast Asia. Ethnologically, the islands of Oceania are divided into the subregions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.Outline of Tonga
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Tonga:
Tonga is a sovereign island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. Tonga comprises the Tonga Archipelago of 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, stretching over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south line. The islands lie south of Samoa and are about one-third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii.
Tonga is the only surviving monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, as well as being the only island nation never to have been formally colonized.
The islands are also known as the Friendly Islands because of the friendly reception accorded to Captain Cook on his first visit in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tu'i Tonga, the islands' paramount chief, and was invited to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, in reality the chiefs had wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but had been unable to agree on a plan.Women in Tonga
As female residents of Tonga, women in Tonga had been described in 2000 by the Los Angeles Times as members of Tongan society who traditionally have a "high position in Tongan society" due to the country's partly matriarchal foundation but "can't own land", "subservient" to husbands in terms of "domestic affairs" and "by custom and law, must dress modestly, usually in Mother Hubbard-style dresses hemmed well below the knee". Based on the "superficial dealings" of LA Times Travel Writer, Susan Spano with the women of Tonga in 2000, she found that Tongan women were a "little standoffish", while Patricia Ledyard, former headmistress of a missionary school for girls in Tonga, confirmed that such "aloofness" of Tongan women were due to the nation's "rigid class system" and the country's "efforts to retain its cultural identity". There were presence of Tongan women who are professionals engaged in jobs as travel agents, as vendors selling an "exotic cornucopia of root vegetables and tropical fruit(s)", and as basket weavers.
List of resources about traditional arts and culture of Oceania