Located in the south Pacific Ocean, the Kingdom of Tonga covers 176 islands, of which only 52 are inhabited. It gained formal independence from British protection on June 4, 1970. Since then, it has been an absolute monarchy, but is now moving toward becoming a constitutional monarchy. The islands of Tonga have been inhabited for thousands of years, with the first Europeans arriving in 1616. Captain James Cook visited three times in the 1770s, with Tongan society undergoing major change in 1845, when the islands were united and the king took the title “George.” In 1900, Tonga became a protected state of the British Empire through a Treaty of Friendship, and therefore technically never lost its sovereignty, being the only Pacific nation that never gave ...

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