Tonga - Geography
Located at the heart of the South Pacific, the ancient Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga
is one of the most scenic and unspoiled of the Pacific island nations. There are 170+ islands (only 40 of which are inhabited) scattered over 700,000 sq km of ocean. Located just to the west of the International Date Line, south-east of Fiji and south of Samoa, Tonga is the first Pacific nation to greet the new day.
Tonga has a variety of scenery seldom matched elsewhere in the world, with dramatic volcanic landscapes, low-lying coral atolls, pristine coral reefs and magnificent sandy beaches. Tonga is divided into four main island groups. In the south is Tongatapu Group
, where the capital of Nuku’alofa
can be found. A hundred kilometres north is the Ha’apai Group
, and 100 kilometres further north is the Vava’u Group
. In the far north, 300 kilometres from Vava’u, lie the remote Niuas, a fascinating part of Tonga where traditional life still thrives.
Most of Tonga’s larger islands (Tongatapu and Ha’apai groups) are raised coral limestone, with some volcanic islands. To the east, the Lifuka and Nomuka groups have many small coral islands and reefs, while the islands to the west (Tofua and Kao) and north (Vava’u group and the Niuas) are volcanic in origin. There are active volcanoes on four of the islands, including Tofua Island, where the crater is filled with steaming hot water. Falcon, an active volcano under the sea, spouts up lava and ash from time to time.
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