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szdaily -> Speak Shenzhen
Tonga: the true South Pacific
    2018-January-8  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

James Baquet

Tonga is another of those evocative-sounding Pacific island countries. Its tourism slogan, “the true South Pacific,” will “ping” more with those who know the movie “South Pacific,” which was based on a stage play, which in turn was based on “Tales of the South Pacific,” the 1947, Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection by American author James A. Michener. The book was based on his experiences as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific campaign during World War II, and was his breakout work of fiction.

Seventy percent of all Tongans — comprising over 107,000 in toto — live on the main island of Tongatapu; 35 of the country’s remaining 168 islands are also inhabited. It stretches over 800 kilometers in a north-south line, with Fiji to the north, Samoa to the northeast, Niue to the east, and Vanuatu (where Michener was stationed, when it was called Espiritu Santo) to the west. It is the southernmost island group in central Polynesia; indeed, its name means “south” in Tongan and many cognate languages.

When British Captain James Cook visited in 1773, the Tongans gave him a congenial welcome, and the group became known as “the friendly islands.” Cook’s arrival coincided with a festival, and he was invited. Later evidence suggests that the chiefs were planning to kill Cook, but by the time they agreed on a plan, he had left.

Cook was not the first European to visit, however. The Dutch were there beginning in 1616, among them Abel Tasman (after whom the Australian island state of Tasmania was named), who visited in 1643.

Although Tonga spent most of the 20th century as a state protected by the United Kingdom, it never relinquished its sovereignty. Less than 10 years ago, however, they began taking steps to effect the shift from a traditional, absolute monarchy to one that was constitutional, allowing for a more representative government.

Aside from Tongan, English is also an official language. The population is nearly 97 percent Tongan, with a handful of Europeans and Asians.

Vocabulary:

Which word above means:

1. first big success

2. amiable, easygoing

3. cause, bring about

4. gave up, let go of

5. all together, totally

6. rank just below captain in the U.S. military

7. producing memories or feelings

8. click, cause recognition

9. prestigious American award in journalism or literature

10. assigned, placed

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