November 4 – Constitution Day in Tonga

Posted on November 4, 2016

Wow – I really thought I had talked about all the countries in the world at LEAST once, in the seven years I've been writing this blog.

I mean, there are only 196 nations in the world, and I've written more than 2,500 posts! But I guess Tonga slipped by somehow!

Tonga is one of the smallest nations on Earth, and it's one of the many (many, many) island nations located in the South Pacific. It's made up of 169 islands, 36 of which people actually live on.

The islands were called “the Friendly Islands” by Westerners, for a while after their “discovery” by Captain James Cook in the late 1700s. That's because Cook and his men happened to arrive during a festival, a time of goodwill to all, perhaps? – and so he was invited to the festivities. However, some claim that there was a plan afoot among the Tongan leaders to kill Cook – the plan just didn't get put into action. That may or may not be true; I'm not sure what evidence has been put forward to back this idea.

Somehow Tonga escaped being colonized – it was the only South Pacific island nation to avoid being formally colonized – but it did have “protected state status” with the United Kingdom for most of the 20th Century. It became a constitutional monarchy when it adopted a constitution on this date in 1875.

I read that Tonga is one of the most corrupt nations in the world! Apparently the royal family and the nobles have almost all of the money and own the telecommunications and satellite companies. But there is a large “non-monetary sector,” which probably means people growing their own food and making the things that they need, and trading with one another. Apparently there are moves to make Tonga richer and more diverse economically speaking, and Tongans hope to develop the tourist industry.

That shouldn't be too hard. I mean...look:

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