Nuku Alofa, on the island of Tongatapu, is the capital of Tonga, an archipelago of 176 islands. It is unique in the South pacific as the only country in the region that was never colonized. In 1845, the islands united as a Kingdom and became a Constitutional Monarchy in 1875. In 1900, Tonga signed a Treaty of Friendship with Britain and became a British protected state. That explains its close ties to the British Royals; the profusion of Colonial architecture; the habit of driving on the left; and the fact that everyone speaks English! In 1970, Tonga became a totally independent and sovereign nation, gaining UN membership in 1999. Thus, it is the only surviving monarchy among the islands of the South Pacific.
Tonga is known as the “Friendly Islands.” This nickname was bestowed by Capt. Cook in 1773. To this day, the Tongans take pride in that and live up to it every single day. I do not believe we have ever experienced the smiles, and good will of a populace as warmly as we did in Nuku Alofa! Obviously, we enjoyed being here and hope to return. I’ll let the photos tell the story: