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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
August 19, 2013


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. It was expected that a total of 330 Tongan soldiers would deploy to support the U.K. forces in Afghanistan. The Tongan Defense Service deployed the latest iteration of 55 troops Afghanistan in May 2013. The are scheduled to complete their mission with withdrawal of forces in December 2014. The U.S. appreciates the commitment of Tonga Defense Services personnel deployed in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

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 U.S. enjoys a trade surplus with Tonga in two-way annual trade of about $20 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 Frankie A. Reed, 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 also is accredited as ambassador to the United States. Tonga has 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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