Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean consisting of 36 inhabitant islands. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nukuʻalofa is located, covers 257km2. Unique among Pacific nations, Tonga never completely lost its indigenous governance, and it also remains the only monarchy in the Pacific.
Tongan is spoken by 126,000 native speakers in the Kingdom of Tonga, in New Zealand, Australia, and in the USA.
Tonga was settled by Polynesians at about 1500 BCE. Ancient Tongan mythologies report the islands of ‘Ata and Tongatapu as the first islands being hauled to the surface from the deep ocean by Maui.
Akin to Hawaiian and Maori
Tongan is one of the many languages in the Polynesian branch of the Austronesian languages, along with Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan and Tahitian, for example. Together with Niuean, it forms the Tongic subgroup of Polynesian.