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Tonga is in the south Pacific Ocean comprising 169 islands, 96 of them inhabited, stretching over a distance of about 800 kilometres (500 miles). The islands lie south of Samoa and are about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii.
Tonga is the only surviving monarchy among the island nations of the Pacific Ocean, The islands are also known as the Friendly Islands because of the friendly reception accorded to Captain Cook on his first visit in 1773.
Only 45 of its islands of the 171 islands are inhabited. About two thirds of the islands' inhabitants live on the island of Tongatapu in the south. The other main islands are the Vava'u Group a little further south, the Ha'apai Group in the middle and Niuas in the far north.
Tonga is one of only two places in the world where you can see humpback whales in the water. From July to October humpback whales pass through the islands. They are often spotted from the boat, and, if you're really lucky, you just might encounter them during a dive. They come to mate and give birth before heading off to their feeding grounds in the Arctic.
Photo Credit: Scott Portelli