About Tonga


Youth literacy (2011)


of the total population is unemployed (2003)


Youth unemployment (2006)


years is the life expectancy (2010)


infant mortality per 1,000 live births (2010)


is the population growth rate

About Tonga


Nuku'alofaNuku'alofa, Tonga. Photo: Sheryl Ho/UNDP

Over recent years, Tonga’s population has remained at around 100,000 people, with a high rate of out-migration helping stabilize demographic trends. In the 1996-2006 inter-censal periods, the population growth rate was 0.4% per annum. The country is predominantly rural; with about 25% of the population living in urban areas. Tonga has a young population with a median age of 21 years. More than one-third (38%) of the population is under15 years of age, with 8% 60 years and older. Life expectancy is considered high at 70.2 overall (67.3 for males and 73.0 for females).

The World Bank classifies Tonga as a lower middle income country. In 2009, the Gross National Income per capita stood at US$2,561. In 2009, Tonga’s economy contracted by 0.4%, a result mainly due to falling remittances of expatriate Tongan, as a result of the global economic crisis. Thus Government revenues have fallen, and the economic downturn is expected to continue at least through 2011. Tonga’s economy is still agricultural-based, with a narrow export base.

The economy is traditionally redistributive in Tonga, and is based on three core values: ‘ofa (love), faka’apa’apa (respect) and fuakavenga (responsibility). Family groups rely on traditional economic cooperation to raise money for important occasions such as weddings, funerals, and so forth. Tongans who migrate overseas (a community of over
150,000 members in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States) regularly remit money to family members in Tonga. Nonetheless, family and community ties are still a dominant cultural and societal trait today.

Source: 2nd National Development Goals Report - Tonga

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