Since the 1990s, Tonga has struggled with high inflation,
high unemployment and varying agricultural production. The
authorities are trying to establish a more differentiated
business community. In order to reduce energy imports, work
is being done, among other things. by utilizing wave power
and solar energy, which in 2004 accounted for a production
of 41 million kWh. Since 1996, the outer islands have been
equipped with solar panels.
COUNTRYAAH, almost half of the country's population is largely
outside the monetary economy with agriculture, fishing and
self-sufficiency. In addition, agriculture dominates the
public economy, employing 32% of the working population and
contributing 28% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in
2003. The most important products are coconuts, vanilla and
pumpkin. It also grows yams, taro, sweet potatoes,
watermelons, tomatoes, cassava, lemons, peanuts, squash and
breadfruit. Tonga has large coconut plantations, but since
the 1990s, the disposal of copra (dried coconut meat) has
been difficult. Pigs, goats, cattle and chickens are kept in
particular by livestock. Fishing is conducted, mainly for
local consumption. Attempts have been made to breed pearl
All land is owned by the Crown, which has distributed it
among the kingdom's 33 noble families for further lease.
The industrial sector is exposed to competition from
cheap import goods. Along with construction, it employed
26.4% of the working population in 2003 and contributed
14.6% of GDP. The industry is to a large extent based on the
processing of raw materials from agriculture and the
production of some consumables, among other things.
furniture, building materials, leather goods and sports
equipment. Some local crafts are sold to tourists.
The majority of the working population is employed in
service industries, and here the tourism industry is very
important. It is the beautiful nature and the mild climate
that attracts tourists. In 2004, Tonga was visited by more
than 41,000 foreigners, most from the United States,
Australia and New Zealand. Development of tourist facilities
is a priority task. Whale watching in Vava'u is one of the
major tourist attractions.
Significant cuts in the public sector and the
introduction of 15% VAT (VAT) in 2005 have brought the state
budget into better balance.
Tonga has large trade deficits abroad, and the country
receives significant financial assistance from New Zealand,
Australia and the EU through the Lomé Convention. In 2004,
the People's Republic of China pledged $ 20 million in aid,
as well as investment, in the period 2005-10. Money
shipments from Tongan abroad, estimated at at least $
35,000, are also an important source of revenue. It mainly
exports agricultural products, especially pumpkin and
vanilla. Foods, crude oil and processed industrial products
New Zealand and Japan are major trading partners.
Transport and Communications
Tonga has a total of 680 km of roads, of which 180 km
paved, mainly on Tongatapu and Vava'u. The main port city is
the capital Nuku'alofa with regular boat connections to
Australia and New Zealand as well as Neiafu on Vava'u.
Fua'amoto International Airport is close to the capital.
The national airline Royal Tongan Airlines went bankrupt
in 2004, with negative consequences for the tourism
industry. Two smaller companies have since operated inland
routes. In 2006, three foreign airlines had flights to