Facts and Statistics
Total Church Membership
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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had an official presence in Tonga for well over a century. In 1891, King Siaosi (George) Tupou was visited by the first Latter-day Saint missionaries to arrive on the shores of Tonga and gave them permission to preach. Property was purchased, a mission home and school were built and a boat was secured for travel between islands. Through the years the Church in Tonga slowly began to grow.
During World War II many Mormon servicemen were stationed near Tonga and attended the local worship services. After the war the Church experienced dramatic growth as many local members were called as missionaries.
The progress of the Church on the islands has been assisted through the establishment of schools. A school in Nieafu was opened by the Church in 1907, and another, the Makeke School, was opened in 1924. A new educational complex, the Liahona High School, was established in 1952; it has become one of the largest and most successful educational institutions in Tonga.
Members of the Church in Tonga value their association with people of other faiths and desire to be contributing members of their local communities. The Church has always recognized the importance of culture to the people of the Pacific Islands.
In August 1983 the Nuku’alofa temple was dedicated, a long-awaited and joyful event for Mormons in Tonga and the surrounding islands. The remodeled temple will continue to be a spiritual focal point for members of the Church in this Pacific region.
Tonga has the largest number of Mormons per capita of any nation in the world. The Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple will serve approximately 41,000 Church members throughout Tonga and the Line Islands of the Pacific Ocean.
Tonga ([ˈtoŋa]; Tongan: Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian sovereign state and an archipelago comprising 176 islands with a surface area of about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. Fifty-two of these islands are inhabited with its 103,000 people.
Lengthwise, the kingdom stretches over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south line located about a third of the distance from New Zealand to Hawaii. It is surrounded by Fiji and Wallis and Futuna (France) to the northwest, Samoa to the northeast, Niue to the east, Kermadec to the southwest (the latter both to New Zealand) and New Caledonia (France) and Vanuatu to a more distant west.
Tonga also became known as the Friendly Islands because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit there in 1773. He happened to arrive at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the first fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga (the islands’ paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities. According to the writer William Mariner, the chiefs wanted to kill Cook during the gathering, but could not agree on a plan.
Tonga is one of the few countries in the world that have successfully resisted European colonization, and the Polynesian kingdom has never lost its sovereignty to a foreign power. Tonga is the only Kingdom in the South Pacific and in 2010, it took a decisive step towards becoming a fully functioning constitutional monarchy, after legislative reforms paved the way for its first partial representative elections.