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.

Before 1st century

800 BCThe first Lapita settlers arrived in Tonga.

1st to 10th centuries

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

11th century

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

12th century

1200Muʻa became the capital of the Tongan Empire.

13th century

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

14th century

15th century

1470The 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

1600The Tuʻi Kanokupolu dynasty ascended.

17th century

1616AprilWillem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire visited the Niuas
1643JanuaryAbel Tasman visited Tongatapu and Haʻapai.
1650Mataelehaʻamea, the Tu'i Kanokupolu, established the supremacy of his dynasty after a war against the Tuʻi Haʻatakalaua, Vaea.

18th century

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

19th century

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

20th century

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

21st century

200630 MarchFeleti Sevele was appointed the first non-noble Prime Minister of Tonga since Shirley Baker in the 19th century.
11 SeptemberTāufaʻāhau Tupou IV died and was succeeded as king by George Tupou V.
16 November2006 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 NovemberGeorge Tupou promised democratic legislative elections for 2008.
201025 November2010 Tongan general election: 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.
201218 MarchGeorge Tupou V died and was succeeded as king by Tupou VI.
201427 November2014 Tongan general election: 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.


  • Queen Salote of Tonga: The Story of an Era 1900-1965 (ISBN 1-86940-205-7)
  • Latukefu, S. (1974), Church and State in Tonga, ANU Press, Canberra
  • Campbell, Ian C; Island Kingdom: Tonga Ancient and Modern, 2001, ISBN 0-908812-96-5
  • "Brief history of the Kingdom of Tonga", on the website of the Tongan Parliament