But that's all recent history and is well documented. Tonga was first discovered by Captain Cook in the 1770's. And it is fairly accepted that it was Captain Cook who first dubbed Tonga "The Friendly Islands", a nick-name still used today. However, there are several versions of how "friendly" the early Tongans really were to Cook and his crews.
While visiting Lifuke, Cook and his men were treated to lavish feasting and entertainment.....the plan was to gather the Englishmen into a convenient place so they could be quickly killed and their ships looted. There was, however, a dispute (over the time of the attack)...and the operation was abandoned altogether.
When Captain Cook visited Tonga....he and his men were received with lavish Friendliness...Some say the islanders intended to roast and eat Cook and his men as part of the feast, but Cook's profuse thanks at his reception prompted them to change their minds.
And Tonga recently had two beauty pageants. The Miss Heilala Pageant would be considered a typical contest with beautiful women.
The second will be a surprise to those not familiar with Tongan culture. The Miss Galaxy Pageant features fakaleitis who are young Tonga men who dress up as women. This is apparently an accepted part of Tongan society.
The living situation is wide open. I could be living somewhere without electricity on an outer island but I've read and been told it is more likely that I will be in a city since I'm in business development. That increases the chances that I'll have electricity. One business volunteer right now even has wireless Internet at his house, but that is rare. Here is a photo of a current volunteer's "home" in Tonga.
When it comes to food, the easy answer is "pork, fish and sweet potatoes." However, a more detailed description can be found in the Peace Corps Tonga Welcome Book.
Tongan meals consist of staple foods, such as yam, taro, sweet potato, cassava, fish, pork, and canned meats. One of the most common dishes is cooked taro leaves with coconut cream. On Sundays and for special occasions, Tongan families prepare an underground oven called an umu.
Finally, I'll close with some numbers. The main island, Tongatapu is 259 Square Kilometers. That's about 100 square miles. At its longest point, the island is about 20 miles long. The highest point is 82 meters or about 270 feet above sea level. The entire country is about four times the size of Washington, DC.. The literacy rate is 99% and the pa'anga is the national currency which is worth about 51 cents.
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