Tonga also became known as the Friendly Islands because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit there in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga (the islands' paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but could not agree on a plan.[
An Austronesian-speaking group linked to the archaeological construct known as the Lapita cultural complex reached and colonised Tonga around 1500–1000 BCE. Scholars have much debated the exact dates of the initial settlement of Tonga, but recently it has been thought that the first settlers came to the oldest town Nukuleka about 826 BCE, ± 8 years. Not much is known about Tonga before European contact because of the lack of a writing system. However, oral history has survived and been recorded after the arrival of the Europeans. The Tongan people first encountered Europeans in 1616 when the Dutch vessel Eendracht made a short visit to the islands to trade.
Tonga has a tropical climate with only two seasons, wet and dry, with most rain falling between February and April. The tropical cyclone season currently runs from 1 November – 30 April, though tropical cyclones can form and affect Tonga, outside of the season.
Tonga's economy is characterised by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the half of the country's population who live abroad (chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States). The royal family and the nobles dominate and largely own the monetary sector of the economy – particularly the telecommunications and satellite services. Tonga was named the sixth most corrupt country in the world by Forbes magazine in 2008.
Tonga was ranked the 165th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
Humans have lived in Tonga for nearly 3,000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. Before the arrival of European explorers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Tongans had frequent contacts with their nearest oceanic neighbours, Fiji and Niue. In the 19th century, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed especially in religion so that today almost 98 percent of residents are Christian. The people discarded some old beliefs and habits, and adopted others.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Tonga
- Waterways of Vava'u Islands
- Humpback Whale Watching, Vavau
- Island Hopping off Tongatap
- Blowholes of Tongatapu
- Trilithon on Tongatapu
- Attend a Traditional Feast
- Visit An Active Volcano, Haapai Group
- Hike the Coastal Cliffs of Eua Island
- Aerial Sightseeing