This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information.(March 2012)
Tonga, by a modification of its treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom in July 1970, is responsible for its own external affairs. It maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbours and the United Kingdom. In 1998, it recognized the People's Republic of China and broke relations with Taiwan.
Tonga maintains strong regional ties in the Pacific. It is a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Tonga endorsed the Treaty of Rarotonga (the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty) in 1995. [ permanent dead link ]
Tonga is, however, notably not one of the eight signatories of the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest which collectively controls 25–30% of the world's tuna supply and approximately 60% of the western and central Pacific tuna supply.
Since November 2011, Tonga was one of the eight founding members of Polynesian Leaders Group, a regional grouping intended to cooperate on a variety of issues including culture and language, education, responses to climate change, and trade and investment.
Tonga was admitted to full membership of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970, upon regaining its independence from British protection.
Since it has always had its own monarch, its position in the Commonwealth was rather unusual.
Tonga is an independent native Commonwealth monarchy like Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Swaziland.
Tonga was admitted to the United Nations in 1999.
Additionally outside the region, Tonga is a member or participant of the ACP, Asian Development Bank, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the G-77, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, International Hydrographic Organization, the IMF, the International Maritime Organization, Interpol, the International Olympic Committee, the ITU, the NAM, the UPU, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Trade Organization.
|Country||Formal Relations Began||Notes|
|Australia||See Australia–Tonga relations|
|China||1998||See China–Tonga relations |
The Kingdom of Tonga and the People's Republic of China (PRC) established official diplomatic relations in 1998. The two countries maintain cordial diplomatic, economic and military relations.
|Fiji||See Fiji–Tonga relations |
These neighbouring countries in the South Pacific have a history of bilateral relations going back several centuries.
Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received "cheers and thunderous applause" from the Tongan public when he attended a Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tonga in October 2007; the crowd's "enthusiastic reception" of Fiji's leader was likened to "that accorded to a rock star". Radio Australia noted that he had been "the star of this year's meeting, for the people of Tonga", while TVNZ reported that he had been "given a hero's welcome".
In terms of inter-governmental relations, Tonga has generally avoided pressuring Fiji's "interim government" into holding democratic elections. However, Tongan Prime Minister Dr. Feleti Sevele has urged Bainimarama "to produce a credible roadmap to the election according to the Constitution and law of Fiji".
|India||See India–Tonga relations |
|Mexico||26 September 2008|
|New Zealand||1970||See New Zealand–Tonga relations |
|Russia||1976||See Russia–Tonga relations |
The Kingdom of Tonga and the Soviet Union established formal diplomatic relations in 1976. Tonga was the first Pacific Island country to establish relations with the USSR. The USSR was dissolved in 1991 and was succeeded by Russia as the successor state.
On 2 October 2005, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Tonga ST T. Tupou exchanged telegrams offering congratulations on the occasion of 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two nations. In his heads of foreign ministries of Russia and Tonga expressed confidence in further development of Russian-Tongan relations in the interests of the peoples of both countries and strengthen peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
|Samoa||See Samoa–Tonga relations |
|South Korea||September 1970|
|Spain||See Spain–Tonga relations |
|Turkey||Jan. 26, 1976||See Tonga–Turkey relations|
|United Kingdom||1879; 4 June 1970|
Tonga has had its longest formal relations with the United Kingdom, with which it remains on very good terms. The British explorer James Cook led expeditions to Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. This was followed by extensive English missionary activity beginning in 1797. The mass conversion of most Tongans to Christianity – and primarily to Wesleyan Methodism – resulted in strong religious ties to England as the source of most of the missionaries involved. Indeed, it was in part through the assistance of the English missionary Shirley Baker (who baptized him) that George Tupou I established the current Tonga constitutional monarchy in 1875. This served to further strengthen Anglo-Tongan ties, and the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Tonga established formal mutual diplomatic recognition in 1879. While always remaining independent, Tonga became a British protected state under the so-called Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. The Treaty of Friendship and protected state status ended only in 1970 under arrangements established during the reign of Tonga's third monarch, Queen Sālote.
Tonga is unique among Pacific island nations in its never having been colonized. Its foreign relations, therefore, have always been as an independent monarchy free of the colonial relationships of its neighbors. (see History of Tonga).
Tonga's earliest foreign relations were rooted in conquest of many of its neighboring islands so that by the 12th century, Tongans, and the Tongan kings, the Tu'i Tonga, were known across the Pacific, from Niue, Samoa to Tikopia they ruled these nations for over 400 years, leading some historians to refer to a "Tongan Empire," although it was more so a network of interacting navigators, chiefs and adventurers. Tonga's dominance of the region was greatly affected following first contact with the Dutch beginning in 1616 on the Northern Tongan islands "Cocos Island" (Tafahi) and "Traitors Island" (Niuatoputapu), and later in 1643 on the main island of Tonga itself. The Dutch did not establish a lasting presence, but Dutch reports led to interest from the British. The British explorer James Cook led expeditions to Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. This was followed by extensive English missionary activity beginning in 1797. The mass conversion of most Tongans to Christianity – and primarily to Wesleyan Methodism – resulted in strong religious ties to England as the source of most of the missionaries involved. Indeed, it was in part through the assistance of the English missionary Shirley Baker (who baptized him) that George Tupou I established the current Tonga constitutional monarchy in 1875. This served to further strengthen Anglo-Tongan ties. While always remaining independent, Tonga became a British protected state under the so-called Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. This protected the Tongan monarchy from European or other colonizing powers in return for a special relationship with the United Kingdom.
In the 1950s, Anglo-Tongan relations were strengthened with the visit of each country's monarch to the other nation. In 1953, Tonga's Queen Sālote became the first Tongan monarch to visit Britain when she attended the coronation of Elizabeth II. Soon after, in 1954, the Queen Elizabeth then visited Tonga.
The Treaty of Friendship and protected state status ended only in 1970 under arrangements established during the reign of Tonga's third monarch, Queen Sālote.
As part of cost-cutting measures across the British Foreign Service, the British Government closed the British High Commission in Nukuʻalofa in March 2006, transferring representation of British interests in Tonga to the UK High Commissioner in Fiji. The last resident British High Commissioner was Paul Nessling.
In 2010, Tongan Brigadier General Tau'aika 'Uta'atu, Commander of the Tonga Defence Services, signed an agreement in London committing a minimum of 200 Tongan troops to cooperate with Britain's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
|United States||See Tonga–United States relations |
The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Although plans for a US consulate in Tonga were announced in 2008, it has yet to be established. Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California and Hawaii.
Tonga has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 4 June 1970.
Tonga was a British protected monarchy from 1900 to 1970, when it became an independent native monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations, a status shared by Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Swaziland, which also have their own native monarchs.
Tonga's foreign policy as of January 2009 has been described by Matangi Tonga as "Look East" – namely, as establishing closer diplomatic and economic relations with Asia (which actually lies to the north-west of the Pacific kingdom). Tonga retains cordial relations with the United States. Although it remains on good terms with the United Kingdom, the two countries do not maintain particularly close relations, and the United Kingdom closed its High Commission in Tonga in 2006. Tonga's relations with Oceania's regional powers, Australia and New Zealand, are very good.
In 1972, Tonga laid claim to, and invaded, the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometres southwest of Nuku'olofa, to thwart efforts by a private group, Ocean Life Research Foundation, to establish an independent Republic of Minerva (now the Principality of Minerva) on the reefs and surrounding quays. In November 2005, Fiji laid a complaint with the International Seabed Authority claiming ownership of the reefs.
Fiji has experienced many coups recently, in 1987, 2000, and 2006. Fiji has been suspended various times from the Commonwealth of Nations, a grouping of mostly former British colonies. It was readmitted to the Commonwealth in December 2001, following the parliamentary election held to restore democracy in September that year, and has been suspended again because of the 2006 coup, but has been readmitted a second time after the 2014 election. Other Pacific Island governments have generally been sympathetic to Fiji's internal political problems and have declined to take public positions.
The government of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) conducts its own foreign relations. Since independence in 1986, the FSM has established diplomatic relations with a number of nations, including most of its Pacific neighbors.
Kiribati is a full member of the Commonwealth, the IMF and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999. Kiribati hosted the Thirty-First Pacific Islands Forum in October 2000. Kiribati has Least Developed Country Status and its interests rarely extend beyond the region. Through accession to the Lomé Convention, then Cotonou Agreement, Kiribati is also a member of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group. Kiribati maintains good relations with most countries and has particularly close ties to Pacific neighbours Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Kiribati briefly suspended its relations with France in 1995 over that country's decision to renew nuclear testing in the South Pacific.
Tonga, officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian country, and also an archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The archipelago's total surface area is about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. As of 2016, Tonga had a population of 100,651, 70% of whom resided on the main island, Tongatapu.
The history of Tonga is recorded since the century after 900 BC, when seafarers associated with the Lapita diaspora first settled the islands which now make up the Kingdom of Tonga. Along with Fiji and Samoa, the area served as a gateway into the rest of the Pacific region known as Polynesia. Ancient Tongan mythologies recorded by early European explorers report the islands of 'Ata and Tongatapu as the first islands having been hauled to the surface from the deep ocean by Maui.
Vanuatu maintains diplomatic relations with many countries, and has a small network of diplomatic missions. Australia, France, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom maintain embassies, High Commissions, or missions in Port Vila. The British High Commission maintained a continued presence for almost a century, though closed from 2005 until reopening in 2019.
The Samoan Government is generally conservative and pro-Western, with a strong interest in regional political and economic issues. Samoa participated in a first round of negotiations with its Pacific Island neighbors for a regional trade agreement in August 2000. In January 2009, Samoa opened embassies in China and Japan.
Nauru, following independence from the United Kingdom, became a sovereign, independent republic on 31 January 1968. Nauru has established diplomatic relations with a number of nations, including most of its Pacific neighbors with which it maintains economic, cultural and administrative ties.
This article is about the foreign relations of Tuvalu. From 1916 to 1975, Tuvalu was part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony of the United Kingdom. A referendum was held in 1974 to determine whether the Gilbert Islands and Ellice Islands should each have their own administration. As a consequence of the referendum, the separate British colonies of Kiribati and Tuvalu were formed. Tuvalu became fully independent as a sovereign state within the Commonwealth on 1 October 1978. On 5 September 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.
The Republic of Minerva was a micronation consisting of the Minerva Reefs. It was one of the few modern attempts at creating a sovereign micronation on the reclaimed land of an artificial island in 1972. The architect was Las Vegas real estate millionaire and political activist Michael Oliver, who went on to other similar attempts in the following decade. Lithuanian-born Oliver formed a syndicate, the Ocean Life Research Foundation, which had considerable finances for the project and had offices in New York and London. They anticipated a libertarian society with "no taxation, welfare, subsidies, or any form of economic interventionism." In addition to tourism and fishing, the economy of the new nation would include light industry and other commerce. According to Glen Raphael, "The chief reason that the Minerva project failed was that the libertarians who were involved did not want to fight for their territory." According to Reason, Minerva has been "more or less reclaimed by the sea".
The Minerva Reefs are a group of two submerged atolls located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji and Tonga.
The Cook Islands maintains diplomatic relations with various countries and is a member of multilateral organisations. While the country is in free association with New Zealand, which can act on the Cook Islands' "delegated authority [...] to assist the Cooks Islands" in foreign affairs, the Cook Islands nevertheless enters into treaty obligations and otherwise "interacts with the international community as a sovereign and independent state."
Niue maintains diplomatic relations with various other countries and multilateral organizations.
Oceania is, to the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China, a stage for continuous diplomatic competition. The PRC dictates that no state can have diplomatic relations with both the PRC and the ROC. As of 2019, ten states in Oceania have diplomatic relations with the PRC, and four have diplomatic relations with the ROC. These numbers fluctuate as Pacific Island nations re-evaluate their foreign policies, and occasionally shift diplomatic recognition between Beijing and Taipei. The issue of which "Chinese" government to recognize has become a central theme in the elections of numerous Pacific Island nations, and has led to several votes of no-confidence.
Fiji–United States relations are the bilateral relations between the Republic of Fiji and the United States of America. The relationship has improved significantly since Fiji's elections in September 2014, which restored a democratically elected government to Fiji for the first time since 2006. The United States had opposed Fiji's unelected government, which came to power through a military coup in December 2006.
Fiji – New Zealand relations refers to foreign relations between New Zealand and Fiji. Relations between these two Pacific countries were previously amicable, and New Zealand has long been a significant development aid partner and economic partner for Fiji.
Fiji–Tonga relations are foreign relations between Fiji and Tonga. These neighbouring countries in the South Pacific have a history of bilateral relations going back several centuries.
Japan and Tonga have maintained official diplomatic relations since July 1970. Japan is Tonga's leading donor in the field of technical aid. The Japanese government describes its relations with Tonga as "excellent", and states that "the Imperial family of Japan and the Royal family of Tonga have developed a cordial and personal relationship over the years". Japan is one of only four countries to have an embassy in Nuku'alofa, whilst Tonga has an embassy in Tokyo.
India–Tonga relations refers to the international relations that exist between India and Tonga. The High Commission of India in Suva, Fiji is concurrently accredited to Tonga.
New Zealand–Tonga relations refers to the diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga. Both nations are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, Pacific Islands Forum and the United Nations.