Exploring Tonga -- Global Learning for Kids

In December Global Learning for Kids explored Tonga. I have to admit I had not heard of Tonga (and didn't vote for it). I turned to the library to find some information to share with Hazel. However the only children's books that showed up with Tonga in them had to do with Africa and not Oceania, which I knew was our focus. I then looked at the adult books (because I was desperate to find something, anything on this little country). The adult books were slim pickings as well, but here is what I found. (Recently I searched for Queen Salote since one of the books was about her and found one children's book with her in it so I'm going to get it tomorrow so I can at least share about the country's most famous queen.)

What I have learned from these books and the computer. Tonga is officially the Kingdom of Tonga and is a Polynesian sovereign state. It has 177 islands and a total surface area of around 290 square miles. It has around 103,000 residents on its 52 inhabited islands. Seventy percent of the residents live on the main island of Tongatapu. It has been known as the Friendly Islands since Captain James Cook received a congenial reception on his first visit in 1773. 

It is located about one third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaii. It is surrounded by Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa, Niue, Kermadec, New Calendonia and Vanuatu. It is basically where people refer to as the South Pacific.
Tonga Royal Palace Oct 08
Tonga Royal Palace By Tofoa Felix (Taken during private visit to Tonga) 
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. Tonga's royal family lives is extreme wealth while much of the country lives in poverty. Tonga provides a free education to all, nominal fees for secondary education, and foreign-funded scholarships for post secondary education. Land ownership is protected, so land cannot be sold to foreigners but it can be leased. There are pro-democracy movements going on to reform things, but the monarchy is not being threatened.
Coronation of Queen Salote, 11 October 1918
Coronation of Queen Salote October 11, 1918 
By not given [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Queen Salote Tupou III reigned from 1918 until her death in 1965. She was the first queen regnant and reigned longer than any other monarch in Tonga. She was well known for her height of 6'3". She brought Tonga into the international spotlight when she attended Queen Elizabeth II's coronation during her first and only trip to Europe. However the Europeans seemed to love her especially after she refused to have the hood put on her carriage during the coronation parade when it started to rain.
Lakalaka from Kanokupolu for the 70th birthday of the king of Tonga;princess Pilolevu Tuita as vāhenga; photo James Foster 1988 By The original uploader was Tauʻolunga at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Copyrighted free use], via Wikimedia Commons
The Lakalaka is often considered the National Dance. To see a video of it and learn more about this dance check out this You Tube video. Another traditional dance is the Tau'olunga which is a dance for virgins and is often danced at their wedding day to show them off. It often can be performed by a small group of girls up to ten or so.You can watch the video below to see what it looks like.

The cuisine seems to include bananas, coconuts, fish and seafood. Plant crops are the major agriculture in Tonga.  Coffee beans, vanilla beans, and root crops are among some of the top crops. Pigs and poultry are the main livestock. 
Tapa By Remi Jouan (Photo taken by Remi Jouan) 
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Tapa cloths are commonly made throughout the South Pacific. Each island has their own method of making these barkcloths. In Tonga the tapa cloths are called ngatu and are often given as gifts and carry serious social importance. In Tonga the tapas are often made with a design tablet. The dyes used to print the designs from the tablet were traditionally brown and red-brown made from the bark of koka trees. Art from Many Hands: Multicultural Art Projects by Jo Miles Schuman has instructions to make fake tapa cloths and design tablets for a project to try at home. With our crazy December we were not able to try it on our own.
Tapa printing forms, Tonga - Pacific collection - Peabody Museum, Harvard University - DSC05751
Tapa printing forms, Tonga. Exhibit from the Pacific Collection, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA By Daderot (Daderot) [CC0 or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular sports in Tonga is rugby. It is the national sport and the national team has been doing quite well on the international level. 

After all of my struggle to find information and to motivate myself after not finding much I finally did a search on Amazon. I found only a few books for children there as well. I have NOT read any of these books, so I cannot recommend them, but am posting them so you know they exist if you want to get a copy. There are several available in learning the Tongan language as well, but I just chose one to share.

  That is my exploration of the Kingdom of Tonga. Be sure to check out the other posts shared below for even more on Tonga and if you have any posts on Tonga please share them as well!

Books pictured from library
Wikipedia Tonga Tau'onlunga, and Salote Tupou III