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Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga (Tongan for "south"), is an independent archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean. It lies about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii, south of Samoa and east of Fiji.
The islands are also known as the Friendly Islands, the name given by Captain Cook because of the friendly reception he received. He happened to arrive at the time of ?inasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tu?i Tonga and was invited to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, in reality the chiefs had wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but had been unable to agree on a plan.
Tonga is an archipelago in the South Pacific consisting of 169 islands, 36 of them inhabited, and is divided into three main groups - Vava?u, Ha?apai, and Tongatapu, which together cover an 800 kilometre (500 mi) long north-south line. The largest island, Tongatapu, on which the capital city of Nuku?alofa is located, covers 257 square kilometres (99 sq mi). Geologically, the Tongan islands generally comprise two types: volcanic islands rising directly from the ocean floor (e.g. Kao and Tofua in the Ha?apai group), and seismically uplifted coral limestone islands overlaying an older volcanic base (e.g. Tongatapu). The active volcanic islands are situated in an approximate north-south line located west of the more populated islands. A new volcanic island broke the ocean's surface in the Ha?apai group during the 1990s.
On August 12, 2006, crew of the yacht Maiken reported sailing through a pumice raft, and spotting a new volcanic island breaking the sea. There was no official confirmation of a new island, either from Tonga's Ministry of Lands or the Tonga Defense Service. Instead of contacting Tonga's Ministry the crew wrote about the whole thing in their travel blog, and after a while, NASA contacted the crew an wanted the exact longitude and latitude coordinates of the new island.
The 2006 Tonga earthquake was a great earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale which occurred on 4 May 2006 (Tonga time). The quake was centred about 155 km (95 miles) south of the island of Neiafu and north-east of the capital, Nuku'alofa.
The climate is basically subtropical with a distinct warm period (December-April), during which the temperatures rise above 32 °C (90 °F), and a cooler period (May-November), with temperatures rarely rising above 27 °C (80 °F). The temperature increases from 23 °C to 27 °C (74 °F to 80 °F), and the annual rainfall is from 1,700 to 2,970 millimetres (67 to 117 in) as one moves from Tongatapu in the south to the more northerly islands closer to the Equator. The mean daily humidity is 80%. Over the last few years the weather has been warmer and wetter than average in the cooler period (May-November), this has caused some problems with fruiting trees and other crops grown on the island.
Information provided by Wikipedia
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