What are the Religions in Tonga?
Tonga is an extremely religious country, with around 99% of the population practising some form of Christianity. Christianity was introduced to the islands some 230 years ago and has been going strong since with Christian-related laws such as observing Sunday as a “day of rest”, for instance. Religion is also engrossed in the culture, with Tongans go to church services every Sunday. Nevertheless, Tonga is a country of religious freedom with a tiny proportion of the population identifying with other or no religions. Learn more about the religions in Tonga in the guide below.
Plus, find out more about the local culture in The Guide to the Tongan Culture for Travellers.
A Brief History of the Religions in Tonga
Pre-missionary times, Tonga has its own ancient religion which had been practised for more than 2,000 years. It was a religion of gods and deities, as well as their unseen domain known as Pulotu.
Protestant missionaries started outposts in Tonga in the late 17th Century. Their influence in Tonga wasn’t solidified until the conversion of an influential chief, Taufa’ahau, who was then baptised in 1831 with the Christian name George Tupou and became King George Tupou I. The king influenced the conversion to Christianity across the nation. And the rest they say, is history…
Learn more about the history of Tonga in A Brief History of Tonga.
Christianity in Tonga
The most represented religion in Tonga is Christianity, with around 99% of the population identifying with a denomination of Christianity. Tongans are extremely religious where religion is an integral part of their culture, from modest clothing to attending Sunday church services to it being illegal to conduct business or play sports on a Sunday.
Where to Experience Christianity in Tonga as a Tourist
Visitors to Tonga are welcome to join Sunday worship in churches across the islands. Churches are found in all towns and villages. For the visitor, going to a Tongan church is an experience of listening to the powerful acapella harmonies or singing accompanied by brass instruments usually played by local school children.
Note that anyone going to a church in Tonga needs to cover their legs below the knees, cover their shoulders and wear smart to smart-casual attire. Think your Sunday best!
Christmas and Easter are also great times to be in Tonga to witness celebrations of these holidays by the Tongan people. Learn more about them in Where to Spend Christmas in Tonga and The Guide to Easter in Tonga.
Find out how to have more cultural experiences in 10 Best Ways to Experience the Tongan Culture.
Christian Denominations Represented in Tonga
These are the main Christianity denominations found in Tonga in order of popularity:
- Wesleyan (Methodist)
- Latter-Day Saints
- Roman Catholic
- Free Church of Tonga
- Church of Tonga
- Assembly of God
- Tokaikolo Christian Church
- Seventh-Day Adventist Church
- Constitutional Church of Tonga
- Anglican Church
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Gospel Church
Around 1.02% of the population belong to other Christian denominations not stated here.
Other Religions in Tonga
Despite the large population of Christians in Tonga, there is still a small percentage of the country practising other religions or no religion at all. Tonga establishes religious freedom, as stated in the constitution of Tonga.
There are minorities of the population practising the Baha’i Faith (around 0.75%), Buddhism (0.17%), Hinduism (0.09%), Islam (0.02%) and others.
Around 0.002% of the population do not identify with a religion.