Timeline of Tongan history

This is a timeline of Tongan history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Tonga and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Tonga. See also the list of monarchs of Tonga and list of Prime Ministers of Tonga.

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.

Before 1st century

Year Date Event
800 BC The first Lapita settlers arrived in Tonga.

1st to 10th centuries

Year Date Event
200 Explorers set out from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji to discover and settle eastern Polynesia.

11th century

Year Date Event
1100 The Empire expanded under Tuʻi Tonga Momo to include Samoa and parts of Fiji.

12th century

Year Date Event
1200 Muʻa became the capital of the Tongan Empire.

13th century

Year Date Event
1250 Samoa rebelled and cast off Tongan rule, establishing the Malietoa dynasty in Samoa and marking the beginning of the Empire's decline.
1300 The Ha'amonga 'a Maui was built during the rule of Tuʻi Tonga Tu'itatui.

15th century

Year Date Event
1470 The Tongans were driven out of Wallis and Futuna. Tuʻi Tonga Kauʻulufonua I ceded temporal authority to his brother Moʻungāmotuʻa, replacing the Tuʻi Tonga dynasty with the Tu'i Ha'atakalaua dynasty.

16th century

Year Date Event
1600 The Tuʻi Kanokupolu dynasty ascended.

17th century

Year Date Event
1616 April Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire visited the Niuas
1643 January Abel Tasman visited Tongatapu and Haʻapai.
1650 Mataelehaʻamea, the Tu'i Kanokupolu, established the supremacy of his dynasty after a war against the Tuʻi Haʻatakalaua, Vaea.

18th century

Year Date Event
1773 Captain James Cook first visited Tonga and referred to it as the "Friendly Islands".
1774 Cook returned.
1777 Cook met the Tu'i Kanokupolu, Tuʻihalafatai, on his third visit.
1782 Tuʻihalafatai renounced power and moved to Fiji.
1793 Tupoumoheofo, the first woman to hold the title Tu'i Kanokupolu, was overthrown by her cousin Tukuʻaho.
1797 The first Christian missionaries arrived from London.
1799 Tukuʻaho, the Tu'i Kanokupolu, was murdered, sparking a half-century civil war.

19th century

Year Date Event
1806 William Mariner began a sojourn in Tonga.
1808 Tupoumālohi was appointed Tu'i Kanokupolu after a nine-year interregnum.
1810 Mariner's sojourn ended.
1820 Aleamotu'a took the throne as Tu'i Kanokupolu amidst ongoing conflict.
1826 Aleamotu'a converted to Christianity and allowed Wesleyan missionaries to settle on Tongatapu.
1831 Tāufaʻāhau I proclaimed himself King George Tupou I.
1845 George Tupou completed his conquest and unification of Tonga and moved the capital to Nukuʻalofa.
1875 George Tupou declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy, emancipated all serfs and guaranteed freedom of the press and the rule of law.
1893 George Tupou died and was succeeded as King by George Tupou II.
1900 A Treaty of Friendship was signed under which Tonga becomes a self-governing British protectorate.

20th century

Year Date Event
1918 George Tupou II died and was succeeded by Queen Sālote Tupou III.
1965 Sālote Tupou died and was succeeded by King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV.
1970 Tonga regained full sovereignty and independence from the United Kingdom and joined the Commonwealth of Nations.
1999 Tonga joined the United Nations.

21st century

Year Date Event
2006 30 March Feleti Sevele was appointed the first non-noble Prime Minister of Tonga since Shirley Baker in the 19th century.
11 September Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV died and was succeeded as King by George Tupou V.
16 November 2006 Nuku'alofa riots: Riots hit Nukuʻalofa, with protestors demanding a faster transition to democracy. Some rioters burned down and looted Chinese-owned shops and businesses. Eight looters died in a burning building.
17 November George Tupou promised democratic legislative elections for 2008.
2010 25 November Tongan general election, 2010: An election produced a Parliament in which an absolute majority of representatives were elected by the people, and which had the power to select a Prime Minister.
2012 18 March George Tupou V died and was succeeded as King by Tupou VI.
2014 27 November Tongan general election, 2014: The Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands is able to form a government for the first time. Veteran pro-democracy campaigner ʻAkilisi Pohiva becomes Prime Minister. He is the first commoner to be elected Prime Minister by a predominantly elected Parliament.


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