Tonga Economy

Tonga Economy and Society

Economic development

The agriculture of Tonga contributed 41% of the Gross Domestic Product in 1990 and employed 45% of working capacity. Crops of coconuts, vanilla, squash, and bananas, which typically make up the bulk of Tongan exports, are the most common, in addition to yams, taro, sweet potatoes, melons, tomatoes, cassava, lemons, limes, oranges, peanuts, and Chinese trees. bread for internal consumption. Tonga comprehensive information can be found on simplyyellowpages.

The islanders raise pigs, goats, poultry, and cattle. Fishing is usually an occasional source of export earnings. The most important industrial activities are the production of concrete blocks, small excavators, clothing, furniture, handicrafts, sports equipment (including small boats), beer and coconut oil. In an attempt to reduce fuel imports, a 2-MW wave power plant was built in 1990, designed to satisfy a third of the islands’ electricity consumption.

Tourism represents a considerable contribution to the economy of Tonga. In 1989, a law allowed foreign banks to establish branches on the islands. A large part of the state’s income comes from money orders sent by Tongan immigrants working abroad.

In 1986 the main source of imports was New Zealand, which was also the main market for exports. Other important trading partners are Australia, Japan, Fiji, the United States and Great Britain.

The most prominent exports in 1986 were coconut oil, melons, and vanilla, while food, basic manufactures, machinery, transportation equipment, and mineral fuels were imported.

Tonga is a member of the South Pacific Commission and the South Pacific Forum. During the 1980s, the Tongan economy was negatively affected by bad weather (along with a cyclone in 1982 and a tornado in 1988), inflationary pressure, high unemployment, massive emigration, and its dependence on the agricultural sector. Annual trade deficits were offset by income from the tourism sector and Tongans’ shipments abroad, while development projects were financed with foreign aid and investment.

The successive five-year development plans aimed at expanding the existing infrastructure and channeling investment into the productive sectors of the economy. The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank provided assistance in 1989 and 1990 to stimulate further development of the agriculture, tourism, and small industry sectors.

There are about 433 km of roads, of which 65% are paved. The main ports are Nuku’alofa, in Tongatapu, and Neiafu, in Vava’u, as well as two smaller ports in Pangai and Niuatoputapu. The country has, for its air services, the Fua’amotu airport, 22 km from Nuku’alofa, and landing strips in Vava’u, Ha’apai, Niuatoputapu, Niuafo’ou and ‘Eua.

The biggest tourist attractions are the beauty of the landscape and its moderate climate. In 1986, 44,677 visitors came to the islands, 45% less than in 1985. Tourists (mostly from the United States, New Zealand and Australia) left an estimated income of 14.6 million pa’angas in 1987..

Social development


On the islands of Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai, there is a government-run public hospital, which also maintains several medical dispensaries on other islands. The health conditions of the Tongans are more than acceptable; life expectancies are 69 years for men and 74 for women. In 1985, four hospitals and fourteen health centers were operating throughout the country.


It offers, together with other countries of the British Community, scholarships to pursue higher studies abroad. In 1985 there were 100 state primary schools and twelve parochial primary schools in Tonga, with a total of 17,019 pupils. In 1986, 13,120 students were attending secondary schools. There were also ten technical and vocational colleges with an attendance of 430 students, a teacher college with 126 enrolled and 201 Tongans studying in other countries. In 1990 the adult literacy rate was 92.8%.


Several newspapers and magazines are published in the country: The Times of Tonga / Koe TaimioTonga, with an English and a Tongan edition; the Kele’a, an independent newspaper on economics and politics; and Eva, Your Holiday Guide to Tonga, among others. For their part, the different religious confessions publish publications with restricted circulation. In 1989 there were some 75,000 radio receivers in use in the country, one for every 1.2 residents. The Tonga Broadcasting Commission radio station, an independent legal entity for commercial purposes, broadcasts programs in English and Tongan.


  • Fishing in this area is very abundant and sometimes it is curious to see how it is carried out. A good example is the eel fishermen, who lull them to sleep by shaking a liana with soporific properties in the water.
  • The most important contemporary monarch was King Taufa’ahau of Tonga. With his meter ninety in height, he weighed, in 1976, 209.5 kg. Although he subsequently managed to lose several tens of kilos, on that occasion he had to be weighed on the only adequate scale in the country, the one at the airport. The registration number of the diplomatic vehicle of its embassy in London is “1 ton” (“one ton”, in English).

Tonga Economy