Tonga Independence Day (also known as Emancipation Day) is celebrated annually on June 4 in the Kingdom Of Tonga, which is comprised of 170 islands, just 37 of which are inhabited. The most popular destinations for visitors are the lovely islands of Tongutapu (an important centre of Polynesian culture), Ha'apai (for its beautiful beaches) and Vava'u (for a host of outdoor activities and water sports, including sailing, windsurfing and diving).
Independence Day is a public holiday throughout the islands of the Kingdom of Tonga. The only sovereign monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, Tonga can also lay claim to being the only island nation in the region to have avoided formal colonisation. Tonga plans to become a fully functioning constitutional monarchy after legislative reform and a more fully representative election take place in 2010.
The archipelagos of "The Friendly Islands" were united into a Polynesian kingdom in 1845. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and a British protectorate in 1900. The Kingdom of Tonga withdrew from the protectorate and joined the Commonwealth of Nations on the 4th of June, 1970. The current monarch is His Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, who has ruled the Kingdom of Tonga since 1965. The Royal Palace, a Victorian confection built in 1867, is located in the capital, Nuku'alofa (meaning 'Abode of Love'), on the island of Tongatapu.
Feasting is a Tongan tradition and the feasts are positively gargantuan. On occasions such as Independence Day traditional feasts can consist of literally tonnes of food piled on long platters called polas.
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