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tiistai 18. lokakuuta 2016

Tonga, Cool Facts #154

<= 153. Samoa                                                                                                               155. Tuvalu => 

Current flag
The current flag of Tonga was adopted in 1875 and the constitution stipulates that the national flag can't be ever changed. The flags of Georgia and Switzerland have a lot of similarities with the Tongan flag. 

Red Cross
Between 1862-1866 Tonga used a flag, which was changed because it was discovered that the Red Cross adopted a symbol in 1864, which was almost identical. 

First flag
In 1831 English missionaries managed to convert the paramount chief Taufa'ahau Tupou to Christianity. In 1845 he became King George Tupou I and during his time in the 1840s the first Tonga flag was adopted. The flag had four crosses in each corner and the letters M and A. 

Tongan flags

First flag



2. Kingdom of Tonga 

The Kingdom of Tonga is the only kingdom in Oceania, which has preserved from the pre-colonial time until now. Tonga is also the only country in the Pacific, which wasn't subdued under direct colonial rule. 

Arrival of the Europeans
The Dutch visited the islands in the 1616 but it was after 1793, when British missionaries started arriving and converting the local people to Christianity. Some of the missionaries and merchants in trade ships were killed, who arrived in Tonga at that time. The Spanish Crown wanted a base in Tonga as well, but the venture was abandoned. 

Unification of Tonga
The chieftain of Ha'apai island, Taufa'ahau, had converted to Christianity and then he unified the three Tongan island groups of Tongatapu, Vava'u and Ha'apai as a unified kingdom in 1845. Taufa'ahau crowned himself the King of Tonga as Siaos George Tupou I.

British Protectorate
King Tupou I died in 1893 and his grandson Tupou II was the successor to the throne. Tonga was in financial trouble so Tupou II decided to sign the Treaty of Friendship with Great Britain in 1900. This meant that Tonga became a British Protectorate. Tonga remained independent, but Great Britain was now in charge of Tonga's foreign relations. Unlike any other Pacific island, Tonga managed to retain its monarchical government unlike Tahiti and Hawai'i


Queen Salote Tupou III ruled Tonga from 1918 until 1965. The Queen's son Tungi Taufa'ahau Tupou IV became the king in 1965 and during his rule Tonga got back its full independence from Great Britain in 1970. The current (2016) monarch is Tupou VI

King Tupou VI and his wife

3. Tu'i Tonga Dynasty 

'Aho'eitu is the divine father and the first king of the Tu'i Tonga dynasty in the Tongan mythology. The Tu'i Tonga dynasty was a real Tongan dynasty, which lost its political power in the 1400s. In 1865 Fatafehi Laufilitonga died and he was the 39th and last Tu'i Tonga dynasty member. 

The Tu'i Tonga was a strong militaristic state in the 1200s, ruling a vast area in the Pacific including Hawai'i. The Tu'i Tonga Empire started declining in the 1400s after the assassinations of kings.

Flag of Tu'i Tonga

Location of Tu'i Tonga Empire

4. James Cook in Tonga 

James Cook visited Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. On his first visit in Tonga, James Cook named the islands Friendly Islands, because of the friendly reception that he got by chief and the local people. Cook actually arrived at the time of the 'inasi festival, which is a yearly donation of the First Fruits to the islands' paramount chief (Tu'i Tonga). Cook was invited to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs actually wanted to kill Cook, but they couldn't agree on a plan how to do this.

James Cook

5. Nuku'alofa Riots in 2006 

What ? 
The biggest riots in Tongan history in the capital city of Nuku'alofa.

Why ? 
Since the 1980s the demands for democracy had grown. In 2006 little had been done to advance democracy despite the promises made one year earlier. Also the lavish lifestyle of King George Tupou angered the people. 

Nuku'alofa Riots
A mixed crowd of people went to the streets to protest in the 16th of November. Some people started then tipping cars over and finally it escalated into looting and burning buildings. The rioters targeted government buildings, several of the larger Chinese shops and others. 

State of emergency
The government declared a state of emergency one day after the beginning of the riots. Peace keeping forces from Australia and New Zealand came to help. The state of emergency was extended many times before it was ended in January 2011. 

Several hundred Chinese people emigrated away from Tonga after the riots. More than 60% of the downtown area was destroyed and 6 people got killed. In 2008 the king announced that he would relinquish much of his powers and surrender his role in governmental affairs to the Prime Minister. 

Nuku'alofa riots
Burning buildings in the Nuku'alofa riots


1500-1000BC The Lapita people inhabited Tonga
1616 The Tongan people encountered the first Europeans as the Dutch vessel Eendracht, captained by Willem Schouten visited Tonga
1643 Dutch Abel Tasman visited Tongatapu and Ha'apai
1773 James Cook visited the islands for the first time
1793 The first London missionaries arrived
1845 Taufa'ahau united Tonga into a kingdom
1875 King Taufa'ahau declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy with the help of missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker
1893 Siaos Tupou I died and his grandchild succeeded him into the throne
1900 Tonga became a protected state under a Treaty of Friendship with Britain
1918 The flu epidemic killed about 8% of the Tongan population
1918 Queen Salote Tupou III rose to the throne and remained in power until 1965
1965 The Queen's son Taufa'ahau Tupou IV ascended to the throne
1970 Tonga got its full independence back
2006 King Tupou IV died and his successor was George Tupou V, whose extravagant and lavish lifestyle has caused a stir among the poor islands of Tonga
2006 Nuku'alofa riots caused the emigration of several hundred Chinese people
2007 Tonga became a member of WTO 

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