Countries that have a capital city with a weird name – Tonga

The Kingdom of Tonga is a small South Pacific nation with a population of just over 100,000 people.  It is comprised of 176 islands, of which just 52 are inhabited.

The capital of Tonga is Nuku’alofa, a Tongan word which roughly translates as `loving abode’.

Nuku’alofa is built around a large lagoon, and none of its buildings are taller than the highest trees.  Captain Cook was the first European to visit Nuku’alofa, and he was so impressed by the generosity metered out by the local population that he called Tonga the “Friendly Islands”.

During his stay, Captain Cook presented the then king with a large tortoise, which lived at the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa for almost another two hundred years.

Nuku’alofa Harbour is the only deep water harbour in the Tongan isles, and the city is the economic hub of the country.   For many years Vuna Wharf was the international harbour until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1977.

British missionaries first arrived in Nuku’alofa in 1827 and were tremendously successful as Tonga is now a Christian country with Methodists being the largest denomination.    

Tongans, generally, are very large people, with over 90% of the population considered to be obese; making it, and another South Pacific island, Nauru, having the world’s highest obese and overweight population.

Although it is possible to walk around Nuku’alofa quite easily, it does have efficient bus and taxi services.

Tonga is not a place which attracts many visitors, so if you do decide to go there, you will be made to feel most welcome by a people who are somewhat well known for their general friendliness.

1 comment to Countries that have a capital city with a weird name – Tonga

  • I was a toss of the coin for my latest trip and Samoa just won out over Tonga. I hope to get there in the next year or so.

    When it comes to countries that have weird sounding capital cities, I always find locals have an abbreviation for them.

    One that comes to mind is Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar where the locals just call it Tana. Safe travels mate…

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