Tonga, officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian country, and also an archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The archipelago's total surface area is about 750 square kilometres scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of the southern Pacific Ocean. As of 2016, Tonga had a population of 100,651, 70% of whom resided on the main island, Tongatapu.
Tonga stretches across approximately 800 kilometres in a north–south line. It is surrounded by Fiji and Wallis and Futuna to the northwest; Samoa to the northeast; New Caledonia and Vanuatu to the west; Niue to the east; and Kermadec to the southwest. Tonga is about 1,800 kilometres from New Zealand's North Island.
From 1900 to 1970, Tonga had British protected-state status. The United Kingdom looked after Tonga's foreign affairs under a Treaty of Friendship, but Tonga never relinquished its sovereignty to any foreign power. In 2010, Tonga took a decisive step away from its traditional absolute monarchy and towards becoming a fully functioning constitutional monarchy, after legislative reforms paved the way for its first partial representative elections.