Kingdom of Tonga
November 3

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Area 747 Archipelago of 171 coral and volcanic islands 600 km east of Fiji, 36 being inhabited.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 98,546 +0.28% 132 per sq. km.
2010 101,251 +0.27% 136 per sq. km.
2025 105,126 +0.24% 141 per sq. km.

Much emigration to Australia and New Zealand where 50,000 Tongans live.

Capital Nuku'alofa 32,000. Urbanites 43%. A considerable migration to the capital from outer islands.


Polynesian 98.3%. Tongans speaking three related languages.

Other 1.7%. English-speaking 600; Other Pacific Islanders 500; Chinese 250.

Literacy 100%. Official language Tongan. All languages 5. Languages with Scriptures 3Bi.


Subsistence agriculture and some tourism. The value of imports is four times larger than exports (mainly to Japan). Remittances from Tongans abroad and aid bridge the difference. Public debt 34% of GNP. Income/person $1,790 (6% of USA).


British Protected State 1900-1970. Constitutional monarchy with the king and nobles having the predominant influence. Since 1990 there has been a growing movement to curb the power of the aristocracy and make the constitution more democratic.


Though avowedly Christian, there is freedom for all religions. The Free Wesleyan Church enjoys a privileged position with the king as titular head.

Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Christian 95.17 94,000 +0.2%
Baha'i 2.40 2,365 +1.1%
non-Religious/other 2.30 2,267 +1.2%
Buddhist 0.11 108 +0.2%
Hindu 0.02 20 +1.0%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 7 40.93 40 -0.1%
Independent 5 19.73 19 +0.0%
Anglican 1 0.57 1 -0.2%
Catholic 1 14.21 14 +0.3%
Marginal 2 40.77 40 +0.5%
Doubly affiliated   -21.01 -21 n.a.

The high doubly affiliated figure is largely due to Mormon claims for those who still retain membership of other denominations.

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Latter-day Saints (Morm) M 162 16,000 40,000
Free Wesleyan P 190 8,964 32,000
Catholic C 13 8,140 14,000
Free Church of Tonga I 80 6,294 9,000
Ch of Tonga I 40 3,593 6,000
Seventh-day Adventist P 14 1,600 5,400
Tokailolo Fellowship I 10 1,500 3,000
Assemblies of God P 15 1,100 2,200
Other denoms [9]   28 1,619 2,916
Doubly affiliated     -12,575 -21,000
Total Christians [17]   552 36,235 94,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.


21 +0.4%


10 +1.5%


5 +2.9%

Missionaries from Tonga
P,I,A 44 in 5 agencies to 9 countries: Tonga 15, S. Asia 8, Taiwan 3.

Missionaries to Tonga
P,I,A 25 in 7 agencies from 10 countries: NZ 7, UK 4, USA 4.
C 40. M 250.

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Answers to Prayer

1 For two centuries Tonga has been a Christian kingdom. In 1995, the king, a committed Christian, publicly re-dedicated the nation to God – the first king in three generations to do this.

2 The Jesus March of 1995 included almost half the country's population.

3 The indicators of hope for spiritual change:

a) The rapid growth of evangelical, charismatic and Pentecostal groups within and outside the mainline denominations.

b) The impact of SU, with a group in nearly every village and through whom many have been converted.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The Tongan Church has had a glorious history of missionary outreach, but for decades the vision has languished. Over the last ten years there has been renewed interest with evangelical Christians forming a group to promote a missions vision. YWAM's University of the Nations has a branch in Tonga with a specific burden to encourage this. Pray that good intentions may become Kingdom-advancing action.

2 The 20 th Century has been one of spiritual decline. There has been a sad history of bitter schisms within Methodism. Politics and Church are intimately intertwined. Doctrinal extremes and personalities have played their part in dividing denominations. Pray for humility and godliness to characterize leadership and pray for revival.

3 Tonga has the world's highest national percentage of Mormons, but probably half of those baptized as Mormons would not consider themselves such (hence the large doubly affiliated figure). The country's largest employers are Mormons. Pray for the error of this sect to be exposed as such, and for many to find freedom in Christ.

4 The less-reached. The growing Chinese community is the only unreached people group, some immigrating from Hong Kong and China.

5 Support ministries. Pray for the lasting impact of:

a) The JESUS film which has been widely used in Tongan and English.

b) The Christian TV station.

c) Christian literature. Both The Bible Society and SU distribute Bibles and other Christian materials widely.

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