TONGA: THE KINGDOM OF TONGA

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MAP OF TONGA
FLAG OF TONGA
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprises 169 islands, 36 of which are inhabited, and stretches over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 miles) in a north-south line. The islands that constitute the archipelago lie south of Samoa, about one third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaiʻi. Tonga is also referred to as the Friendly Islands because of the friendly reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga, the islands' paramount chief, and received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, in reality the chiefs had wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but were unable to agree on a plan. Tonga, the only sovereign monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, has the distinction of being the only island nation in the region to have avoided formal colonization.

Etymology
In many Polynesian languages, the word "Tonga" means "South". The name of Tonga derives from the word Tongahahake, which translates to "Southeast", originally meaning "the wind that blows from the Southeast". The proper pronunciation of the name 'Tonga' is /toŋa/, a pronunciation used for an Indian carriage spelled in the same way and so causing confusion.