Tonga

LOCATED IN THE South Pacific, the Kingdom of Tonga has a land area of 289 sq. mi. (748 sq. km.), with a population of 100,000 (2006 est.) and a population density of 396 people per sq. mi. (153 people per sq. km.). The country consists of 169 islands, but only 36 of these are permanently inhabited. With 24 percent of the country listed as arable, some 6 percent is used for meadows and pasture, with 12 percent of the country being forested; Tonga has a very restricted timber industry program.

Tonga also has a low per capita rate of carbon dioxide emissions, with 0.8 metric tons per person in 1990, rising to 1.12 metric tons by 2003, ranking Tonga 136th in the world in terms of emissions. Although the electricity production in the country is low, it is all generated from fossil fuels. With all the country's carbon dioxide emissions coming from liquid fuels, this accounts for not just electricity production but also the use of automobiles and small household or business generators.

Global warming and climate change are already having a major effect on Tonga, with the flooding of parts of the country, including a number of the uninhabited islands, and the very real risk of large parts of the country being lost as the water level rises. In addition, there is a problem over the alienation of arable land, deforestation leading to soil erosion, and off-shore coral reef bleaching and loss of marine life.

The Tonga government took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992 and ratified in 1998, in the same year as the ratification of the Vienna Convention. The current Tonga government has not expressed a position on the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

SEE ALSO: Climate Change, Effects; Floods.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Paul Smitz, Samoan Islands and Tonga (Lonely Planet, 2006); "Climate Change and the Pacific Islands," United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), http://www. unescap.org/mced2000/pacific/background/climate.htm; World Resources Institute, "Tonga—Climate and Atmosphere," hwww.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007).

JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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