Economy of Tonga

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large nonmonetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Much of the monetary sector of the economy is dominated, if not owned, by the royal family and nobles. This is particularly true of the telecommunications and satellite services. Much of small business, particularly retailing on Tongatapu, is now dominated by recent Chinese immigrants who arrived under a cash-for-passports scheme that ended in 1998.

The manufacturing sector consists of handicrafts and a few other very smallscale industries, all of which contribute only about 3% of GDP. Commercial business activities also are inconspicuous and, to a large extent, are dominated by the same large trading companies found throughout the South Pacific. In September 1974, the country's first commercial trading bank, the Bank of Tonga, opened.

Rural Tongans rely on plantation and subsistence agriculture. Coconuts, vanilla beans, and bananas are the major cash crops. The processing of coconuts into copra and desiccated coconut is the only significant industry. Pigs and poultry are the major types of livestock. Horses are kept for draft purposes, primarily by farmers working their api. More cattle are being raised, and beef imports are declining.

Tonga's development plans emphasize a growing private sector, upgrading agricultural productivity, revitalizing the squash and vanilla bean industries, developing tourism, and improving the island's communications and transportation systems. Substantial progress has been made, but much work remains to be done. A small but growing construction sector is developing in response to the inflow of aid monies and remittances from Tongans abroad. The copra industry is plagued by world prices that have been depressed for years.

Efforts are being made to discover ways to diversify. One hope is seen in fisheries; tests have shown that sufficient skipjack tuna pass through Tongan waters to support a fishing industry. Another potential development activity is exploitation of forests, which cover 35% of the kingdom's land area but are decreasing as land is cleared. Coconut trees past their prime bearing years also provide a potential source of lumber.

The tourist industry is relatively undeveloped; however, the government recognizes that tourism can play a major role in economic development, and efforts are being made to increase this source of revenue. Cruise ships often stop in Nukuʻalofa and Vava'u.

According to the CIA World Factbook,

The Tongan economy's base is agriculture, which contributes 30% to GDP. Squash, coconuts, bananas, and vanilla beans are the main crops, and agricultural exports make up two-thirds of total exports. The country must import a high proportion of its food, mainly from New Zealand. The industrial sector accounts for only 10% of GDP. Tourism is the primary source of hard currency earnings. The country remains dependent on sizable external aid and remittances to offset its trade deficit. The government is emphasizing the development of the private sector, especially the encouragement of investment.
Economy of Tonga
Tonga 10 Seniti 1975 back
A Tongan coin
Currencypa'anga (T$)
1 July - 30 June
Trade organisations
GDP$865 million (2012 est.)
GDP rank187th (nominal) / 183rd (PPP)
GDP growth
1.4% (2012 est.)
GDP per capita
$7,500 (2011 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture: 20.4%, industry: 18.6%, services: 61% (2011 est.)
7.7% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line
16% (FY09/10)
Labour force
47,320 (2011)
Labour force by occupation
agriculture 31.8%, industry 30.6%, services 37.6% (2003 est.)
Unemployment8% (FY09/10)
Main industries
tourism, construction, fishing
85th (2017)[1]
Exports$62 million (f.o.b., 2010)
Export goods
squash, fish, vanilla beans, root crops, domain names
Main export partners
 South Korea 17.8%
 United States 16.4%
 New Zealand 15.1%
 Fiji 10.9%
 Japan 9.2%
 Samoa 9.1%
 American Samoa 5.8%
 Australia 5.0% (2012 est.)[2]
Imports$92 million (f.o.b., 2010)
Import goods
foodstuffs, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, chemicals
Main import partners
 Fiji 38.0%
 New Zealand 23.5%
 United States 10.1%
 China 9.9% (2012 est.)[3]
Public finances
$50 million (2010)
Revenues$109.5 million (2011 est.)
Expenses$109.5 million (2011 est.)
Economic aidAustralia $5.5 million, New Zealand $2.3 million (FY01/02)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.


Electricity - production: 53 GW·h (2008)

Electricity - production by source:

Electricity - consumption: 38,13 GW·h (2003)

Electricity - exports: 0 kW·h (2003)

Electricity - imports: 0 kW·h (2003)

Tonga is installing tailor-made policies to power its remote islands in a sustainable way – without turning to expensive grid-extensions. A number of islands within the Kingdom of Tonga are lacking basic electricity supply. In view of the decreasing reliability of fossil-fuel electricity generation, its increasing costs and negative environmental side-effects, renewable energy solutions have attracted the government’s attention. Together with IRENA, Tonga has charted out a renewable energy based strategy to power the main and outer islands alike. The strategy focuses on Solar Home Systems that turn individual households into small power plants. In addition, it calls for the involvement of local operators, finance institutions and technicians to provide sustainable business models as well as strategies to ensure the effective operation, management and maintenance once the systems are installed.[4]

Other data

Agriculture - products: squash, coconuts, copra, bananas, vanilla beans, cocoa, coffee, ginger, black pepper; fish

Currency: 1 pa'anga (T$) = 100 seniti

Exchange rates: pa'anga (T$) per US$1 – 1.9716 (2004), 2.142 (2003), 2.1952 (2002), 2.1236 (2001), 1.6250 (November 1999), 1.4921 (1998), 1.2635 (1997), 1.2323 (1996), 1.2709 (1995)


  1. ^ "Ease of Doing Business in Tonga". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Exports Partners of Tonga". CIA World Factbook. 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  3. ^ "Imports Partners of Tonga". CIA World Factbook. 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  4. ^
Aquaculture in Tonga

Aquaculture in Tonga has been the responsibility of the Ministry of Fisheries since the early 1970s. The main centre for this is the Sopu Mariculture Centre on the main island of Tongatapu, which is operated by the Ministry of Fisheriesand was established with the assistance of the Government of Japan. A serious setback was experienced in 1982 as a result of damage caused by Cyclone Isaac. The Tonga government provides for the development and management of aquaculture in the country through the Aquaculture Management Act 2003, also known as the Aquaculture Act.Some progress has been made with developing aquaculture but this has tended to be on a small-scale and there have been no substantial commercial developments. There is ongoing investment in aquaculture for species showing the potential to develop into small industries and the Mariculture Centre at the Ministry of Fisheries breeds giant clams, bêche-de-mer and other species, including seaweed. It has also been importing milkfish from Kiribati and Fiji, initially to restock a lagoon on the island of Nomuka, in the south of the Ha’apai Group. There is considerable interest in further promotion of aquaculture to increase the availability of affordable fish-based protein in domestic markets.

Gender inequality in Tonga

Gender equality issues are becoming of increasing importance internationally, and in order to bridge gaps in the equality of men versus women, a thorough understanding of differing culture, gender norms, and the legal framework of a country is necessary to give policy suggestions that will decrease the discrimination women everywhere face. Tonga, a Pacific island kingdom, has low gender equality as measured by the Gender Inequality Index (GII).

Some critical issues to consider when examining gender inequality issues in Tonga include: gender norms, the legal framework of Tonga, gender equality treaties Tonga participates in, gender inequality policies the Tongan government implements, organizations in Tonga that are struggling to promote gender equality, and the economic opportunities available to women in Tonga.

Jesse Bogdonoff

Jesse Bogdonoff (born April 1, 1955) is a former Bank of America financial advisor to the government of Tonga and court jester of Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, the king of Tonga. He was embroiled in a financial scandal.

National Reserve Bank of Tonga

The National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT) is the central bank of Tonga. The Reserve Bank is responsible for regulating the issue and supply of domestic and international currency, as well as promoting monetary stability and economic development. It also advises the Ministry of Finance on banking and monetary matters, acts as the principal banker and fiscal agent of the Government of Tonga, and is responsible for the licensing and supervision of financial institutions. The bank was established on July 1, 1989. The current Governor is Ngongo Kioa.NRBT is active in promoting financial inclusion and is a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.

Neiafu Market

Neiafu is a relatively new Saturday market and shopping centre on Vava'u, Tonga. It is regarded as a municipal market and sells a range of items, including handicrafts, ancient headrests, kava bowls, stone adzes, old whale teeth and other craftswork. Also sold are taro, alocasia, manioc, yams as well as bananas, amongst others. In 2007 it was noted that the Neiafu Market be reviewed by the Vanuatan Government and the EC. The market is well connected by bus and minibus to surrounding villages on the island.

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.

Postage stamps and postal history of Tonga

The beginnings of the postal history of Tonga can be traced to the Wesleyan missionaries, who landed in the islands in 1826, and sent regular communications back to London and Sydney from the day of their arrival. The Tongan Post Office was established in 1887, but even before then postage stamps featuring the image of King George Tupou I were produced in New Zealand.

Tonga Development Bank

Tonga Development Bank (TDB) is a development finance institution that promotes Tonga's economic and social advancement through a variety of banking services.


Committed to promoting Tonga’s economic and social advancement by providing high quality and responsive development banking services and other selected commercial activities, while operating professionally as a profitable and financially sound development financing institution.

Tongan paʻanga

The paʻanga is the currency of Tonga. It is controlled by the National Reserve Bank of Tonga (Pangikē Pule Fakafonua ʻo Tonga) in Nukuʻalofa. The paʻanga is not convertible and is pegged to a basket of currencies comprising the Australian, New Zealand, United States dollars and the Japanese yen.

The paʻanga is subdivided into 100 seniti. The ISO code is TOP, and the usual abbreviation is T$ (¢ for seniti). In Tonga, the paʻanga is often referred to in English as the dollar, the seniti as the cent and the hau as the union. There is also the unit of hau (1 hau = 100 paʻanga), but this is not used in everyday life and can only be found on commemorative coins of higher denominations.

Tongan pound

The Tongan pound was the currency of Tonga until 1967. It was subdivided into 20 shillings, each of 12 pence.

Sovereign states
Associated states
of New Zealand
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Tonga articles

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