Tonga. In January, the Supreme Court sentenced the Minister of Tourism, Etuate Lavulavu, for bribery. According to countryaah, the current population of Tonga is 105,706. During a 2014 election campaign, Lavulavu had personally ensured that roads were repaired and also distributed money during the election day itself. The Court therefore annulled his election victory. Re-election was held in July and resulted in victory for Lavulavu’s wife, Akosita Lavulavu. She thus became the only female member of Tonga’s parliament.
In February, according to thereligionfaqs, Tonga became the 187th member state of the International Labor Organization (ILO). In May, two of Tonga’s islands, Malinoa and Motutapu, were declared rat-free. The work of eradicating the rats is part of a project aimed at protecting the plant’s plant and animal life from invasive, that is, alien, species that affect the ecosystem.
In September, Interior Minister Fe’ao Vakata was fired by Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva. The reason was that during an outbreak of anger, Vakata threw a glass of wine at a high ranking civil servant.
HUMAN AND ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY
In 1998, according to an official United Nations estimate, the population of the archipelagic microstate had reached 98,000 residents; the demographic growth rate, in the 1990-97 interval, was around 3%. As in the past, the Tongatapu and Vavau are the most densely populated islands and the population is concentrated in the villages located along the coasts, while only a little over a third resides in the three main urban centers (Nuku’alofa, Neiafu and Panagai).
In the nineties the economic development of Tonga was compromised by a series of climatic adversities (drought crisis, cyclones) and by a conspicuous increase in inflation and unemployment, with the consequent formation of a significant emigration current. The increase in GDP, which until 1997 was attested on an annual average of 1.4%, subsequently began to decrease, until it touched negative values. The government has introduced severe measures to try to reduce dependence on foreign countries, especially as regards the import of energy products, but the economy of the islands remains strongly linked to international aid and the remittances of numerous emigrants. Trade cooperation agreements have been signed with some countries, including Malaysia and Papua New Guinea. Primary activities employ over a third of the active population. Agriculture contributes to the export with coconuts, citrus fruits and bananas. Fish stocks are profitable above all for the revenues deriving from the transfer of fishing rights in territorial waters. The industry,11.6 %, recorded only modest developments: alongside traditional businesses (food, coconut fiber processing) small mechanical and furniture factories have sprung up. A growing share of resources is aimed at encouraging tourism, of which a strong expansion is expected, through the construction of hotels and transport infrastructures.