Tonga – Kingdom of Tonga, a state in Polynesia

Tonga: the land of the beautiful death

Flying from Vanuatu to Tonga with a layover in Fiji. The flight is delayed an hour and a half! At the airport I am sitting in the business lounge, which happens to be the only place in the whole airport with air conditioning. But it didn’t work either. The thermometer reads 27 degrees. But in the general lounge it is 35. The poor people are drenched in sweat. It’s stuffy. By the way almost all the airports in Oceania have Priority Pass cards! That’s amazing!) Didn’t think they made it here.

All flights so far are on Fiji Airways ATR 72-600. Their last two rows (8 seats total) are used for flight attendants. But there are usually 2 or 3 flight attendants on board, so if you get on the plane last, you can sit at the end. This is especially important since the exit from the plane is at the tail end of the cabin. And what could be more important than getting off first and getting to passport control first? That’s right, nothing!

We’re arriving in Fiji! At security, a woman from airport security asks to see the liquids I have in my backpack. I have toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner.

– Put the liquids in a transparent bag and put them through the scanner separately. – I’m sorry, but I don’t have a clear bag. – Then you can’t take them through. – But what difference does it make? You can see it’s shampoo, run it through the scanner separately. Why do you need a bag? – The instructions say that all liquids must be in a plastic bag! – So give it to me! Let me buy it from you. – We can’t sell bags. If you don’t have it, we’ll take the liquids. – Bitch. – Have a safe trip!

I never understood that stupid rule. At some airports in Europe, bags are mandatory so you don’t exceed the total amount of liquids carried in. But when you have one toothpaste or one little bottle of shampoo, no one picks on you. But not at Fiji airport! Here, these parasites clawed at the manual like kites and took everything! The biggest pity was the pasta. Now where do I look for it at night?

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I’m flying into Tonga at night. By the way, is it Tonga or Tonga? Anyway, it’s after 1:00 a.m. I’m tired as a dog. By the way, why do they say tired as a dog? Dogs are lazy and rarely work so hard that they get so tired. Anyway, I’m more tired than a dog! I rented a car and was about to go to the hotel. The hotel is about 22 km away from the airport. The traffic is on the left hand side. There’s nobody on the road at this hour! I am immediately surprised by the quality of Tongan roads. The asphalt is perfect, you can see that it was recently laid. The road is wide and there are fields all around. I hit 100 km/h and rush to the hotel. On the way there are a few cars, all surprisingly slow – some at 40, some at 50 km / h. I’m surprised to find so many. I wonder what kind of fools they are. Country road, perfectly flat, nice road. And then. Bam! Two policemen run out of the bushes and literally throw themselves under my wheels!

– Sir, are you aware of the speed limit? – The policeman asks me, shining a flashlight in my face. – Well, I think I was going about 70-80 kilometers at most! – I decided to lie a little, but the policeman did not even argue. – Do you know that we have a maximum speed of 50 km/h?!

Yes, that’s how I became a persistent violator of the speed limit. I was ready to pay a fine, but it wasn’t about the fine. The cops didn’t want to give me a ticket, and my Russian license was a mystery to them. So they sentenced me to a lecture on road safety! For 30 minutes I listened to how dangerous driving fast, how many people die each year in Tonga because of it, etc. Who knew?! Didn’t do it again.) Drove to the hotel at 50 km/h like everyone else.

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Tonga is another state lost in the vast waters of the Pacific. Not to be confused with Togo! Togo is an African asshole, but Tonga is a little paradise! Like a paradise. That’s how the country is seen by tourists. As usual, it’s dozens of islands scattered over the ocean. As usual, a weak economy and dependence on nature. Only tourism pulls it through.

01. Economically, Tonga feels a little worse than Fiji, but a little better than Vanuatu. The country’s well-being depends mainly on tourism, agriculture and the absence of natural disasters. And Tonga is also a country of fishermen who catch mostly tuna and lobsters.

02. The country is one big village. There are only 9 towns in Tonga with a population of more than 600 people.

Tonga

Tonga or Kingdom of Tonga is a Pacific Island country in the South Pacific Ocean in Polynesia, located on 176 islands of the same archipelago. The country is bordered on the north by the territorial waters of Samoa, on the east by the territorial waters of Niue, and on the west by the waters of Fiji. The total area is 748 sq. km. The capital is Nuku’alofa.

The archipelago extends about 631 kilometres from north to south and about 209 kilometres from east to west. The largest island groups that make up the Kingdom are the islands of Wawau, Tongatapu and Haapai. A secondary group, the Niuas Islands, consists of three small islands, Niuafoo, Tafahi and Niuatoputapu, which are the northernmost islands of the country.

Some of the islands of the archipelago are of coral origin, some are of volcanic origin. Over the past two hundred years, more than 35 volcanic eruptions have been recorded on the islands.

One of the largest volcanoes in Tonga with a height of 515 m is on Tofua Island, which is the top of an underwater stratovolcano. The caldera of the volcano is 5 km wide, and there is a caldera freshwater lake. The highest volcano in the country is located on the island of Kao: it rises to 1030 m above sea level. Other large volcanoes are located on the islands of Fonualei, Late, and Niuafoo. The continuing high volcanic activity in the region is often accompanied by the formation of small ephemeral islands.

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Climate in Tonga

The climate in Tonga is hot, tropical, and is influenced by southeasterly trade winds. There are two distinct seasons: the rainy season (November – April) and the dry season (May – October). The average annual air temperature in the country is +23 … +26 ° C. During the hot rainy months the temperature in the islands usually ranges between +25 … +26 ° C, and during the dry cool months – between +21 … +24 ° C.

The rainiest months of the year are January, February and March, each with up to 250 mm of rain. The average annual amount of precipitation varies greatly from year to year: abnormally rainy or, on the contrary, dry months are common. El Niño and tropical cyclones are the main causes of variation. During El Niño, the islands experience prolonged droughts, and during cyclones, heavy rains.

Tonga is negatively affected by tropical cyclones, which often reach devastating force. On average, the country records 1 to 2 cyclones annually, most of which occur during the rainy season (February is the most common).

Tonga population

Population 103,197 (2018). Urban population – 23%.

Life expectancy for men is 67.9 years and 73.1 years for women.

Almost 97% of residents are Tongans, indigenous Polynesian people, 1.6% are from mixed marriages of Tongans and other peoples. The proportion of foreigners (Europeans, natives of other Pacific islands, and Asians) is minimal.

The dominant religion on the Tonga Islands is Christianity.

The official languages are English and Tongan (one of the many languages of the Polynesian group of Austronesian languages, along with Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tahitian and others).

The written Tongan language was created in the first half of the 19th century by European missionaries.

Tonga’s money and currency

The monetary unit of the Kingdom of Tonga is the paanga (TOP or T$). There are 7 coins with denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 paanga and 7 banknotes with denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 paanga.

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The paanga itself is not a convertible currency and its exchange rate is pegged to a basket of currencies consisting of Australian, New Zealand dollars, US dollars and Japanese yen.

Banks are open Monday to Friday, from 09.00 to 16.00, some large bank offices are open on Saturdays, from 08.30 to 11.30.

Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks and exchange offices. Some hotels also do currency exchange, but at lower rates than banks.

Bank cards can be used everywhere on the larger islands, they may not be possible on the smaller islands.

Traveler’s checks can be cashed at banks, some hotels and large stores. It is advisable to carry checks in US and Australian dollars to avoid extra expense due to exchange rate fluctuations.

Communications in Tonga

Phone Code: 676.

Ambulance is 933, fire department is 999, police is 922, emergency service (for all cases) is 911.

Telephone area codes

There are no long distance area codes.

How to call

To call from Russia to Tonga dial: 8 – dial tone – 10 – 676 – caller’s number.

To call from Tonga to Russia, you have to dial: 00 – 7 – city code – subscriber’s number.

Shopping in Tonga

Usually stores work – from Monday to Friday, from 08.00 to 17.00, on Saturdays – from 08.00 to 12.00, but many private stores work according to their own schedule.

Popular souvenirs in Tonga are items (rugs, clothing) made of Tapa. Tapa, a cloth made from treated bast, is an important attribute of the national clothing.

The Sea and the Beaches in Tonga

Beaches stretch along the coasts of the islands, most of which are composed of white coral sand. On volcanic islands you can find beaches of black volcanic sand.

In Tonga it is not welcomed in public places in bathing suits or bikinis. When leaving the beach, you must cover bare parts of the body and it is better for women to wear long skirts and men – light pants and a shirt (T-shirt).

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Nudism is illegal in Tonga.

Tips and Tricks for Tonga

All tap water is chlorinated and is quite safe to drink. However, it is recommended to use bottled water for drinking.

In Tonga it is not welcomed in public places in bathing suits or bikinis. When leaving the beach, you must cover bare parts of the body and it is better for women to wear long skirts and men – light pants and a shirt (T-shirt).

How to get to Tonga

There is no direct air communication between Russia and Tonga.

The most convenient way to Tonga from Russia is via Australia or New Zealand.

Another option is to fly through Fiji. Ticket prices here are higher, and the frequency of flights is much less than in the first two countries.

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