People appeared on the Tonga archipelago as early as the 13th century BC, so these islands are considered one of the oldest centers of Polynesian culture. In the 10th century AD. Tongans began to unite in tribes, headed by leaders. The first dynasty of leaders was called Tui Tonga. In the 15th and 16th centuries, as a result of the reform of power, a new dynasty of Tui Khaa Taka-laua appeared. This dynasty consisted of former deputy chiefs who were endowed with real power. Starting from the Tui Haa Taka-laua dynasty, the former leaders began to perform only ritual functions. At the beginning of the 17th century, power passed into the hands of the Minister of War, whose dynasty was referred to as Tui Konokupolu. However, the leaders were also revered among the local population.
The first European to set foot on the archipelago was the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. It happened in 1643. In 1773, James Cook visited the islands and gave them the name “Friendship Islands”. In 1797, the first Christian missionaries arrived in the archipelago, but the locals resisted Christianization for a long time. It was not until 1828 that the Tongans began to accept Christianity. In the middle of the 19th century, the last sacred leader of the most ancient Tui Tonga dynasty died. He left no offspring and therefore the head of the Tongans from the Tui Konokupolu dynasty proclaimed himself the king of Tonga. He converted to Christianity and enlisted the support of Christian missionaries.
In 1900, the King of Tonga signed an agreement with Great Britain to establish a protectorate over the kingdom, under which the king retained his power. In 1970, the protectorate was abolished and the archipelago was proclaimed an independent kingdom within the British Commonwealth. Tonga differs from other Commonwealth countries in that its state system, which has evolved over many centuries, has remained unchanged and the head of state is not the monarch of Great Britain, but the local king. In addition, in 2006 the British Embassy in Nuku’alofa was closed and the British representation in Tonga was moved to the British High Commission in Fiji.
Island group of Vavau
According to topschoolsintheusa, 80 km to the north of the island group of Ha’apai there are 34 islands united under the name of Vavau. The largest island of the group has the same name. In its southern part, on the shores of the vast Port Refuge Bay, there is the administrative center of the Vavau Islands – the city of Neiafu . Neiafu is also the second largest port in the state. To visit in Neiafu we can only recommend the Sailoam market and the city harbor, which in winter is filled with yachts. Between May and October, the yachting season officially opens on the Vavau Islands. It is no coincidence that this place has become one of the most famous yachting destinations: on the south side, the island of Vavau is bordered by many coral islands, and the lagoons formed by the islands are the best suited for boat trips. On yachts, you can go to secluded sandy beaches or go to the caves that the Vavau Islands are famous for. Numerous caves are suitable not only for swimming or snorkelling, but also for diving. The walls of the local caves are covered with multi-colored soft corals, among which the most unusual fish live. The most famous caves suitable for diving are located near the island of Tuungasika, the islet of Eukafa, off Nuapapu Atoll and Cap Island. Among divers, the bay of the capital Neiafu, where the freighter Clan MacWilliam has been buried since 1927. The ship has a length of 128 m and is located at a depth of 22 m. This is a great place for wreck diving.
It is also worth going to Mount Talau National Park, towering on the island of Vavau. Mount Talau has a height of 131 m. A hiking trail leads to its top, a journey along which takes 45 minutes. The park is home to a rare stone lizard and many flying foxes. No less interesting are the nearby botanical gardens Eneio, where more than 500 plant species are represented.
Humpback whales appear in the waters surrounding the Vava’u Islands each year during the winter months between July and November. They come here from Antarctica to mate and breed. AT In Neiafu you will find many companies that will offer you to go to the sea in order to watch whales. To do this, excursions are offered on boats, catamarans, boats, yachts or canoes, or walking tours along the rocky east coasts. During a sea excursion, you can not only see whales from a boat, but also swim near them with a mask. It is worth remembering that you should go to the sea to see the whales only with a guide accredited by the Ministry of Fisheries. Diving near the whales is not allowed, but swimming or snorkeling within 30m is allowed.
In addition, fishing is possible on the Vavau Islands. Large fish such as barracuda, marlin, sailfish, dorado and tuna live in coastal waters. Every year in September, the International Tongan Fishing Tournament is held on the island of Vava’u.
Niuas island group
Niuas is the northernmost group of islands in the Tonga archipelago, located about 400 km from the Tongatapu group. It includes the islands of Niuatoputapu and Niuafou. Getting to the Niuas Islands is quite difficult: the ferry runs here once a month, and planes fly twice a week, but flights are often cancelled. The isolation of the islands from the central regions of the state allowed the local population to maintain their identity. It is here that you can get acquainted with the “pure” Polynesian culture, which has escaped Western influence. The only place where tourists are accommodated is the Palm Tree resort. It is located on a small island off the northern coast of Niuatoputapu. In the northwestern part of the island of Niuatoputapu is the administrative center of the Niuas Islands – the village of Hihifo . Niuatoputapu Island is volcanic, its area is 18 square meters. km. On the island you can go hiking, visit traditional Polynesian villages, climb to the top of the extinct Tafahi volcano or lie on the beaches of the northwest coast. Niuafou Island is located 100 km northwest of the island of Niuatoputapu. An active volcano rises on it, which erupted 4 times in the 20th century. The northern coast of the island is covered with lava fields, and there is a lake with hot springs in the crater of the volcano.