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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Tonga

Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Fact Sheet
October 27, 2015


More information about Tonga is available on the Tonga Country Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The partnership between the United States and Tonga is broad and deep, based on shared values and close cooperation. The two countries work together on matters ranging from combating climate change and human trafficking to improving maritime security and fostering cooperation and development in the region.

Tonga became fully independent from the United Kingdom in 1970. It is the South Pacific's last Polynesian kingdom, a constitutional hereditary monarchy. The United States has commended Tonga for its move toward fuller democracy through the 2010 election of its first popular majority parliament and its ongoing development of an active and vibrant civil society.

Tonga has contributed significantly to international peace and security in recent years. During 2004-2008, Tonga deployed four contingents of soldiers to Iraq for durations of 6 months. In 2010, Tonga deployed the first contingent of 55 soldiers to Afghanistan in support of the British Armed Forces' efforts in the International Security Assistance Force. Tonga deployed 330 soldiers to support U.K. forces in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2014. His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF) completed their withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in April 2014. The United States appreciates the service of HMAF personnel that were deployed in Afghanistan. Tonga is a recipient of the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which has been used to equip HMAF for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Tonga also benefits from International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which has been used to send HMAF officers and senior enlisted personnel to professional military education and leadership development courses in the United States. IMET has also been used to help Tonga develop engineering skills in order for HMAF to respond to natural disasters in country and throughout the region.

Tonga has received multiple humanitarian assistance missions in the last five years, including three pacific partnerships, and one operation Pacific Angel mission (July, 2014) during which U.S. military personnel partnered with HMAF and local doctors to provide medical care and complete a series of engineering projects.

U.S. Navy SEABEEs deployed to Tonga from August 2013 to February 2014 to construct a disaster relief shelter, which doubles as a town hall.

Tonga has signed on to a security partnership program for ship-rider missions which allow a Tongan Navy official to ride on U.S. Coast Guard vessels. Tonga has participated in an average of one mission per year under this program, although they have not signed the expanded ship-rider agreement under the under Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI), which allows ship-rider missions with U.S. Navy vessels as well as U.S. Coast Guard vessels. Tonga recently became first country in South Pacific to enter a State Partnership Program, joining with the Nevada National Guard in February 2014.

U.S. Assistance to Tonga

Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. Tonga received $635,000 security assistance funds in FY 2011 and $710,000 in FY 2013.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Tonga's economy is characterized by a large non-monetary sector and a heavy dependence on remittances from the more than half of the country's population that lives abroad, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California, and Hawaii. The United States enjoys a trade surplus with Tonga in two-way annual trade of about $10 million.

Tonga's Membership in International Organizations

Tonga has close relations with its Pacific neighbors. Tonga and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Atomic Energy Agency, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Tonga is Judith B. Cefkin, resident in Fiji; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Tonga has no embassy in Washington, DC, but has a permanent representative to the United Nations in New York who is also accredited as ambassador to the United States. Tonga maintains a Consulate-General in San Francisco, California.

More information about Tonga is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here

Department of State Tonga Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Tonga Page
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics

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