Health in Tonga

General information

The Kingdom of Tonga, known as ‘The Friendly Islands’, lies in the central south-west Pacific, surrounded (clockwise from the west) by Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Cook Islands and, to the south, New Zealand. The islands, which straddle the International Date Line, lie to the east of the Tonga Trench, containing some of the deepest waters of the South Pacific. The main island sub-groups are Tongatapu, Vava’u and Ha’apai. The largest island is Tongatapu.
Climate: Hot and humid from January to March; cooler from April to December. Cyclones may occur November to April.

Environment

The most significant environmental issues are deforestation, damage to coral reefs by excessive coral and shell harvesting, and depletion of sea turtle populations by hunters.

Population

105,000 (2012); 24 per cent of people live in urban areas; population growth stood at 0.4 per cent p.a. between 1990 and 2012. In 2012 the birth rate was 26 per 1,000 people (37 in 1970) and life expectancy was 73 years (65 in 1970).

The vast majority of the people are of Polynesian descent. Tonga suffers from heavy emigration, mostly to New Zealand, Australia and the USA. There are 50,478 Tongans living in New Zealand, more than half of whom were born there (2006 New Zealand census).

Economy

Tonga is classified as a lower-middle-income economy by the World Bank.

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