1616 von Holländern entdeckt, 1643 von A.J. Tasman zuerst betreten; seit 1845 unabhängiges Kgr.; 1900–70 brit. Schutzgebiet unter Fortbestand der alten Königsdynastie; seit 1970 unabhängiger Staat im Commonwealth; König ist seit 1965 Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.
1. A monarchy on a Polynesian archipelago; Also called: Friendly Islands.
2. The language of the Tonga people of south central Africa (Zambia and Rhodesia).
Country in the SW Pacific Ocean, in Polynesia.
Tonga is an independent hereditary monarchy within the Commonwealth. Its constitution dates from 1875 and provides for a monarch who exercises executive power in conjunction with an appointed 10-member Privy Council, which functions as a cabinet and is headed by a prime minister.
There is a single-chamber legislature, the Legislative Assembly, of 31 members, which include the monarch, the Privy Council, nine hereditary nobles, and nine representatives of the people elected by universal adult suffrage. The assembly has a life of three years.
The original inhabitants were Polynesians, and the first European visitors to the islands were Dutch, 1616 and 1643 (Abel Tasman). Captain Cook dubbed them the Friendly Islands 1773. The contemporary Tongan dynasty was founded 1831 by Prince Taufa'ahau Tupou, who assumed the designation King George Tupou I when he ascended the throne. He consolidated the kingdom by conquest, encouraged the spread of Christianity, and granted a constitution. Tonga became a British protectorate from 1900, but under the terms of revised treaties of 1958 and 1967 recovered increased control over its internal affairs.
Queen Salote Tupou III died 1965 and was succeeded by her son, Prince Tupouto'a Tungi, who as King Tupou IV led his nation to full independence, within the Commonwealth, 1970.
In the Feb 1993 elections for nine elected representatives of the people in the Legislative Assembly, six prodemocracy candidates were successful, putting the king under additional pressure to dilute his absolute powers.