Tonga, Land and Resources
giant flying foxes, rainiest months, eastern islands, hibiscus plants, cyclone season
Tonga consists of more than 150 islands spread over approximately 360,000 sq km (approximately 140,000 sq mi) of the Pacific Ocean. They are divided into three main groups—Tongatapu, Ha’apai, and Vava’u. About 40 of the islands are inhabited. With inland waters and several outlying islands, the country has a total land area of 750 sq km (290 sq mi). Tongatapu, with a total area of about 260 sq km (100 sq mi), is the largest island. The eastern islands, including Tongatapu, are coral formations, while islands of volcanic origin lie in the west. The highest point in Tonga is Mount Kao (1,030 m/3,379 ft), a volcano forming Kao Island in the Ha’apai group. Several islands have active volcanoes. Volcanic ash creates fertile soil, and the islands are well-vegetated. However, deforestation, caused by land being cleared for agriculture and settlement, is an increasing problem.
The natural plant and animal life are limited, but include hibiscus plants and giant flying foxes, a species of bat. Domestic animals include horses, cattle, pigs, and chickens. Marine life is abundant and provides an important source of food.
The climate is tropical with high humidity and an average daily temperature range of 16° to 29° C (61° to 84° F). Precipitation averages 1,610 mm (63 in) a year. The rainiest months are from December to April, which roughly coincides with the cyclone season. Cyclones occur every few years and are quite destructive.
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