Tonga is a Polynesian archipelago in Oceania. The country comprises of 169 islands including 36 inhabited islands. The nation has a total area of 750 square km. Tonga has a population of 107,122 people. Nearly 70% of this population resides on the biggest island of Tongatapu.
Captain James Cook visited the island in 1773. In 1900, Tonga earned the status of a British protected state and remained so until 1970. Unlike many other nations in the region, Tonga never lost its sovereignty to any foreign powers.
Protestantism is the biggest religion in Tonga. Followers of this religion account for 64.9% of the population of the country. 16.8% of the population are Mormons. The third most popular religion in Tonga is Roman Catholicism whose adherents constitute 15.6% of the population. Believers of other religions and non-believers account for 1.1% ad 0.03% of the population. 1.7% do not specify any details regarding their religious beliefs.
The Largest Religion In Tonga
Christianity was introduced in Tonga by Europeans. Methodists dominate as the biggest Christian group in the country. As per the 2011 census of Tonga, the adherents of Free Wesleyan Church account for 36% of the country’s population. Even the king and most of the royal members are affiliated to this church. The LDS Church/Mormon has the second highest number of adherents in the country, accounting for 18% of the total population of Tonga. Roman Catholics comprise 15% of the Tongan population. Several other Christian groups are also active in the country.
Tongan Christians are very religious and are ardent churchgoers. The church acts as the main religious and social hub of the Tongan society. Sunday is maintained as a strict sabbath by the country. In fact, any kind of trade or other work with the exception of essential services carried out on Sunday is subjected to fine or imprisonment. The rule is even enshrined in the constitution of the country.
Religious Freedom And Tolerance In Tonga
Although Christians comprise the vast majority of the Tongan population, small communities of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Bahai’s, and believers of other faiths also live in the country. The Tongan society is generally tolerant towards the religion of others. The Constitution of the country provides for the freedom of religion. The government also tries to ensure this right of the people is protected. Societal abuses and discrimination on religious grounds are not tolerated in Tonga.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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