|The Courier N° 160 - Nov - Dec 1996 - Dossier Habitat - Country reports: Fiji , Tonga (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
Area: 669 km². Tonga has about 170 small islands and four main island groups (Tongatapu, Ha'apai, Vava'u and the Niuas). It has an Exclusive Economic Zone of approximately 700 000 km,).
Capital: Nuku'alofa (situated on Tongatapu)
Population: 99 000 (1994 census)
Population density: 149 per kilometre²
Life expectancy at birth (1992): 68 years Official languages: Tongan and English Currency: Pa'anga (T$) made up of 100 seniti. The currency is pegged to the Australian dollar. In September 1996, 1 ECU was worth T$ 1.57 (US$1 T$ 1.22)
System of government: Constitutional monarchy based on the Constitution promulgated in 1875. Considerable powers remain vested in the King. The Parliament has 31 members - the Speaker, 12 ministers (including the Governors of Vava'u and Ha'apai) who are appointed by the King, 9 nobles chosen by the 33 members of the nobility and 9 People's Representatives elected by universal suffrage. There are no political parties although there has been talk of setting up a 'people's Party'. The twelve cabinet ministers hold office until they reach retirement age.
Head of State: King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV
Prime Minister: Baron Vaea of Houma
Economy (estimated 1995 figures unless otherwise stated)
Annual GDP per capita: approx US $1900
GDP growth rate: -2% (1995/96)
Principal exports: squash, vanilla, manufactured goods and fish. In the early 1990s, squash accounted for more than half the country's total export income. In 1995, however, the harvest was affected by drought and exports dropped significantly.
Balance of payments: A trade deficit of US $38.8m (exports - US $18.3m, imports - US $57.1 m). The current account deficit is much smaller thanks to 'invisible' earnings, notably from tourism and remittances from Tongans living overseas. Inflation rate (April 1995): 4.5%. Total external debt: T$ 44m (1993)
Sources: Tonga in Profile (on the Internet - http: 11l www. netstorage. com/kami/ tonga) Economic Intelligence Unit Country Report 1996.