The kingdom of Tonga is also known as the Friendly Islands.
It consists of some 170 islands divided into three main groups – Tongatapu in the south, Ha’apai in the centre, and Vava’u in the north.
Many of the islands have been raised above sea level by volcanic activity. Four of them are still active volcanoes!
Three quarters of the population live on the main island of Tongatapu. The capital is also a major port of entry, with several wharves and piers. Much of its economic activity revolves around coconuts and coconut products.
Tonga’s birds include rails, starlings and kingfishers. The red-breasted musk parrot and the blue-crowned lorikeet are regarded as two of the most beautiful birds in the Pacific.
The village of Kolovai on Tongatapu is home to flying foxes (a type of fruit bat). The bats cling to trees by day and fly at night to forage for food.
Tonga joined the Commonwealth in 1970.
It made its debut in the Commonwealth Games in 1974. Their first medal came at the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games when boxer Paea Wolfgramm won Bronze.
Paea then went on to win a Silver medal at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. He was the first sportsperson to win an Olympic medal from the island nations in the southern Pacific Ocean, outside Australia and New Zealand.