Demographics of Tonga

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Flag of Tonga.svg
Total population
c. 250,000+
Regions with significant populations
 New Zealand60,336[2]
 United States57,183
 American Samoa1,650[4]
Tongan and English
Christianity, Polytheism, Polynesian narrative
Related ethnic groups
Other Polynesians
2005 Food and Agriculture Organization data showing the population of Tonga (in thousands) with time

Tongans, a Polynesian group, represent more than 98% of the inhabitants of Tonga. The rest are European (the majority are British), mixed European, and other Pacific Islanders. There also are several hundred Chinese. Almost two-thirds of the population live on its main island, Tongatapu. Although an increasing number of Tongans have moved into the only urban and commercial center, Nukuʻalofa, where European and indigenous cultural and living patterns have blended, village life and kinship ties continue to be important throughout the country. Everyday life is heavily influenced by Polynesian traditions and especially by the Christian faith; for example, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and the constitution declares the Sabbath to be sacred, forever. Other important Christian denominations include Methodists (Free Wesleyan) and Roman Catholics.

Primary education between ages 6 and 14 is compulsory and free in state schools. Mission schools provide about 83% of the primary and 90% of the secondary level education. Higher education includes teacher training, nursing and medical training, a small private university, a women's business college, and a number of private agricultural schools. Most higher education is pursued overseas.

Based on 2006 estimates, the religious breakdown of the population was Protestant 64.9% (includes Free Wesleyan Church 37.3%, Free Church of Tonga 11.4%, Church of Tonga 7.2%, Tokaikolo Christian Church 2.6%, Assembly of God 2.3%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.2%, Constitutional Church of Tonga 0.9%, Anglican 0.8% and Full Gospel Church 0.2%), Latter-day Saints 16.8%, Roman Catholic 15.6%, other 1.1%, none 0.03%, unspecified 1.7%.[6]

As the 1960s ended the population growth rate fell rapidly in the country.

Population history[edit]

In the 1930s Tonga had a population of about 32,000. Starting in the 1970s large scale migration began to Australia and New Zealand. By the 1970s the emigration rate from Tonga to Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada, France and the United States was over 2% annually.[7] The country has over 100,000 residents.



There are over 150,000 people of Tongan descent living outside of Tonga, mostly in New Zealand, United States, and Australia. 60,336 New Zealanders identified themselves as being of Tongan ethnicity with 22,413 stating that they were born in Tonga. As of 2016, Tongan New Zealanders make up 1.2% of New Zealand's population of approximately 5 million people.[2]

There is a Tongan Australian population of 32,691 people, which is over 0.1% of Australia's population. 60% of Tongan people live in New South Wales.

United States[edit]


In the U.S., Tongan Americans constitute a small 0.02% of the U.S. population, with over 57,000 people recorded having Tongan ancestry in the country as of 2010. Much of the U.S. Tongan community resides in California, such as in San Mateo County (0.7% of the county's population) in the San Francisco Bay Area, where over 5,000 Tongan Americans live. They are concentrated in Daly City, East Palo Alto, San Mateo, and San Bruno. There is a Tongan community in Oakland, of about 1,500 people (0.3% of Oakland's population). There is also a Tongan population in Los Angeles County, mainly in Inglewood (0.7% of the city's population), Hawthorne, and Long Beach.


There is a sizable Tongan community in Utah, mainly in the Salt Lake Valley. Salt Lake County has over 8,000 residents of Tongan ancestry. The Glendale neighborhood of Salt Lake City has one of the highest concentrations of Tongans in the area.


Euless, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has a significant Tongan community, with more than 1,000 residents.


  1. ^ [1] Archived 27 February 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Tonga 2016 Census Results (11 November 2016).
  2. ^ a b "Tongans: Facts and Figures". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  3. ^ {cite web|url= information summary 2016|publisher=Australian Bureau of Statistics|format=XLS|date=2018|accessdate=15/06/2020}} (table 9.1 of downloadable XL file: "Estimated resident population, Country of birth, State/territory, Age and sex - 30 June 2011")
  4. ^ "American Samoa". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on October 21, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2019.
  5. ^ "Immigration and Emigration".
  6. ^ Tonga page from CIA factbook
  7. ^ Migration Policy Institute article on Tonga