These people also developed a significant culture as they spoke Tongan, a Polynesian
language, they created foods that are still common today, and they also formed various
social, political, and religious structures. These changes led to the growth of
Tonga in the 900, creating an empire that lasted until the 1500s. During this time
Tonga ruled much of the greater Polynesian region, rapidly spreading their influence
to other islands, while also adopting foreign ideas. This exchange of ideas formed
the base of the Polynesian culture that can still be seen in various forms across
this geographically huge area.
The islands turned inward after the fall of this empire, but the Europeans arrived
soon after, again forever altering the culture of the people. Although Europeans
arrived earlier, it was the heavy British influence in the 1800s that forever changed
the people. This change began with missionaries, who converted most of the people
to Christianity, which they remain today. British influence spread quickly with
local allies on the island as advanced technology and communication were introduced
to the people and today most people speak English as a second language.
The British, like those before them, changed the culture and lifestyle on Tonga,
but Tonga remains at the core of Polynesian culture. Although technology is available,
people speak English, and nearly everyone is Christian, the people maintain aspects
of their historic foods, culture, and lifestyle as life continues to be focused
on family, the lands, and the seas.