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of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu.Tonga stretches across approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) in a north-south line.He arrived 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.In the 15th century and again in the 17th, civil war erupted.The Tongan people first encountered Europeans in 1616 when the Dutch vessel Eendracht, captained by Willem Schouten, made a short visit to trade.Under the protection of Britain, Tonga maintained its sovereignty, and remained the only Pacific nation to retain its monarchical government (unlike Tahiti and Hawaiʻi).The Tongan monarchy follows an uninterrupted succession of hereditary rulers from one family.

Tonga became known in the West as the Friendly Islands because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773.While exposed to colonial pressures, Tonga has always governed itself, which makes it unique in the Pacific.As part of cost-cutting measures across the British Foreign Service, the British Government closed the British High Commission in Nukuʻalofa in March 2006, transferring representation of British interests to the High Commissioner in Fiji.From 1900 to 1970, Tonga had British protected state status, with the United Kingdom looking after its foreign affairs under a Treaty of Friendship.The country never relinquished its sovereignty to any foreign power.

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