Posts

Living Conditions in the Paracel Islands
The Paracel Islands is a group of more than 30 islands between the coastlines of Vietnam and China, also called Xisha Islands, the Hoang Sa Archipelago and West Sand Islands. The country is in the South China Sea and some have considered it a flashpoint for regional tensions in East and Southeast Asia. Along with the Spratly and Patras Islands, the maritime territory is “…at risk of becoming Asia’s Palestine…” said the outgoing Secretary-General of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. With this in mind, here are 10 facts about the living conditions in the Paracel Islands.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in the Paracel Islands

  1. Fishing grounds and potential oil and gas reserves surround the Paracel Islands. Although no one has done a reliable estimate on the area, many believe there is a significant hydrocarbon (the chief component in petroleum and natural gas) prize in the region. The mere suspicion of the potential value the islands may have had made China anxious about its occupation.
  2. According to international law, China has sovereignty over the Paracel and Spratly Islands by discovery and occupation of said islands. While China faced Japanese aggression in 1930, however, France, as the colonial power in Vietnam, occupied some of the islands upon the argument that those islands were Vietnamese historical territories.
  3. The Japanese invaded the Vietnamese islands as an act of aggression towards China. It was not until the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and the 1952 Sino-Japanese Treaty when Japan renounced all rights to the Paracel Islands, as well as the Spratly Islands, Penghu and Taiwan to China. Because of this, the Paracel Islands are a huge source of international conflict. The People’s Republic of China has tried to keep the occupation of the islands, despite protests from the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Vietnam. In 2012, the People’s Republic of China declared a city named Sansha, located on Woody Island, one of the Paracel Islands, that administers several island groups. The People’s Republic of China is doing everything in its power to support its territorial claims.
  4. Although no one has calculated an exact number, the People’s Republic of China invests millions in the development of the Paracel Islands. More recently, Beijing revealed a $23.5 million contract for a coastguard ship to patrol the Paracel Islands. It has also made advancements in the living conditions on Woody Island.
  5. Woody Island is the most populated of the Paracel Islands with over 1,000 habitats and scattered Chinese garrisons on the surrounding islands. Most people living on the islands are soldiers, construction workers and fishermen. With the recent construction, China has built a school for the 40 children living on the island. It also has a hospital, a postal office, a supermarket and more.
  6. There are many concerns about the militarization of the South China Sea as reports of the presence of missiles on the islands, especially Woody Island, surge. China built a military installation on Woody Island with an airfield and artificial harbor. President Xi Jinping held a private two-day drill in the Paracel Islands as a show of strength in the South China Sea.
  7. There is a limited supply of fresh water on the islands. On most of the islands that China occupies, drinking water comes in barrels with other supplies from small boats, making it as scarce as fuel. Desalination plants have activated in the South China Sea but are not available to all. Many have had to improve their ability to sustain long periods of time without supplies, including drinking water.
  8. There are plans underway to open the Paracel Islands to tourism by granting visa-free travel. The travelers will be able to stay up to 30 days on the islands. For years, tourism was scarce in the islands due to international conflicts but construction has already begun for a tourist area. There is, however, a threat for allowing tourists onto the islands.
  9. One of the biggest sources of income for the habitats in the Paracel Islands are the surrounding fishing grounds. It represents a key part of the living conditions in the Paracel Islands. If tourism opens up in the area, fishing activities will be greatly reduced. Another problem has risen against the fishing grounds: the degradation of coastal habitats. The degradation of coastal habitats has been mostly due to the military bases in construction. Luckily, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme have partnered for the Implementation of the Regional Strategic Action Programme for the South China Sea. Along with rehabilitating the coastal habitats, one of its priority issues is the management failures with respect to the linkage between fish stock and critical habitats. The coastal reefs are a considerable part of the Paracel Islands because they also act as a defense.
  10. A major concern of the Paracel Islands is typhoon season. The islands experience a series of typhoons during the summer months. This natural disaster leads to instability in the islands and the reefs are a critical part in protecting the islands from major harm.

People have given little attention to the poverty the habitants of the Paracel Islands have been facing these past years. These 10 facts about the living conditions in the Paracel Islands should illuminate the subject so the archipelago can improve over time.

– Andrea Viera
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Top Ten Facts About Living Conditions in Antigua and Barbuda

With people inhabiting the islands as early as 2400 B.C., Antigua and Barbuda have a rich history. First conquered by Spanish and French settlements in the late 15th century, the islands were later established as an English colony in the 1600s and didn’t gain their independence within the British Commonwealth of Nations until 1981. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Antigua and Barbuda.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Antigua and Barbuda

  1. The government spends an estimated 2.5 percent of its GDP on education, with 91 percent of students enrolled completing the primary seven years of mandated education. Males are estimated to spend an average of 12 years in school, and females 13. Interestingly, the ratio of females to males continuing their education past secondary school is two to one.
  2. While the islands are technically independent, they still operate under a constitutional monarchy, meaning that British Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Rodney Williams, is still their head of state. However, there is also a Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, and two legislative houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, which is permitted by the constitution.
  3. Antigua and Barbuda are both destination and transportation countries for human trafficking, both sex trafficking and forced labor. Reports of sex trafficking in the form of prostitution have been described as occurring in bars and brothels, while forced labor is not as easy to spot, often seen in domestic and retail sectors. While the islands are not known for making valiant efforts to eliminate human trafficking, improvements in cases being taken seriously have been made in recent years.
  4. Tourism is a huge source of the islands’ GDP, as is common in the Caribbean region. Making up 60 percent of the roughly $2.4 billion GDP, it should come as no surprise that 80 percent of the labor force is in the service industry.
  5. While colonized by the British, sugarcane became a massive export of Antigua’s. Slavery was used as a means to speed up the exportation process. After the emancipation of these slaves in the nineteenth century, many Antiguan inhabitants developed a desire for self-governance, while others wished to form likenesses with other Caribbean nations.
  6. Driving is the most common form of transportation in Antigua and Barbuda, with taxis used extensively, and many drivers even taking tourists on sightseeing excursions. Bus systems are in place but rarely used. Additionally, local boats and ferries run often, and there are flights between Antigua and Barbuda.
  7. Those native to the islands tend to be relatively healthy, with life expectancies for men at around 75 years, and females 79 years. 5.5 percent of the country’s GDP is spent on health, ensuring that about 91 percent of the population had access to proper sanitation centers as of 2011.
  8. While the unemployment rate across Antigua and Barbuda is 11 percent, those who have stable incomes have become accustomed to modern technology, and are relatively well established. In 2008, it was reported that 97 percent of households had televisions sets, and in 2013, for every 1,000 people, there were 1,271 mobile phone subscriptions.
  9. Aside from tourism, the main labor categories on the island are industry and agriculture. The main agricultural products include cotton, fruits and vegetables, sugarcane and livestock. The main industries include the obvious tourism, construction and light manufacturing of items such as clothing and alcohol.
  10. Antigua and Barbuda have no major international disputes and maintain fairly peaceful. They have a variety of export partners, including Poland, Cameroon, the U.S. and the U.K. They import mainly from the U.S. and Spain.

Bearing these top 10 facts about Antigua and Barbuda in mind, it’s easy to see why so many people are drawn to these Caribbean islands. With such a rich history to delve into, locals are eager to show off the culture and beauty the country has to offer. Without the romanticization of many tourist websites, these top 10 facts about Antigua and Barbuda give a brief overview of different aspects of the islands.

– Emi Cormier
Photo: Google Images

World Heritage Sites
Chew Jetty is a small town in Malaysia’s George Town that achieved Unesco World Heritage status in 2008. On Penang Island, the town contains wooden piers that used to belong to a bustling seafront hub and represents the vitality and dynamic nature of one of the last intact bastions of Malaysia’s old Chinese settlements. After World War II and Japanese occupation, the piers decayed immensely until the settlement’s economy was hardly able to sustain itself. In a final attempt to preserve the economy and the once-vivacious settlement, the town made a bid to Unesco for protection.

Chew Jetty Tourism

When Chew Jetty was awarded World Heritage status, the change was not at all what the residents had expected. Two of the clan enclaves had been demolished to create new housing complexes. Additionally, flocks of tourists infiltrated historical homes, vendors installed flashy commercial stalls and encroaching developers urged locals to alter important structures to make room for new developments. Suddenly, Chew Jetty’s status as a Unesco World Heritage site attracted thousands of tourists by the boatload, effectively uprooting the culture and traditions once held sacred to the old Chinese settlement.

And yet, receiving its status as a World Heritage site seemed to be the only measure of action that prompted Chew Jetty out of its declining economic state. Therein lies the dichotomy in in Unesco’s attempt to benefit economies and its detrimental effect on the local population.

Anti-Tourism Conundrum

This anti-tourism sentiment can be seen worldwide. In 2017, local communities in Venice and Barcelona gathered together in an outburst of anti-tourism marches, complaining about rising rents, overcrowding, and the increase in pollution due to cruise ships. Local residents and activists are demanding authorities to alter the management of tourism, as it has significantly altered their normal daily lives and actually increased the cost of living for them.

At first glance, the influx of tourists is interpreted as an increase in the tourist economy and consequently an increase in the state economy. However, upon a further breakdown of this effect on the locals of any given city, the influx of tourists increase costs and overcrowding, making living conditions more difficult and less affordable for local residents. This could, in turn, actually increase poverty rates among the citizens who once inhabited these locations.

World Heritage Sites

There are 1,052 World Heritage sites across the world, and most of these locations struggle with the same conflict of striking a balance between tourism and the preservation of culture. Several organizations, including Unesco itself, have been working towards a solution to this problem. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has stated that the goal should not be to limit the number of tourists visiting these cities, but rather to better manage the flow of tourism by perhaps redirecting them away from main city centers and city attractions and formulating a more sustainable form of tourism.

Additionally, the Unesco World Heritage Tourism Program has identified the adverse effects of tourism on World Heritage sites and is making active efforts to thwart the increasingly adverse effects of tourism on the local population. For instance, the Program is implementing appropriate tourism management workshops for its annual conventions and adopting a new set of standards and principles relating to sustainable tourism at World Heritage sites.

While there are negative socio-cultural and economic effects on World Heritage sites, there are several movements that are working together to bring a more sustainable form of tourism and enhancement of a city’s economy without sacrificing the well-being of the locals.

– Shefali Kumar
Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to JamaicaJamaica faces many economic struggles and is often in need of foreign aid. For the past five years, the U.S. has been the biggest provider of foreign aid and investment in the country. The aid is valuable for both countries as the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica in many ways.

Tourism

Although a popular destination for travelers, Jamaica faces many economic issues, including high unemployment rates, crime and corruption. The country is also prone to natural disasters. Although tourism helps support the economy of Jamaica, it is not enough to sustain it.

Jamaica believes that foreign aid and investment is a key aspect of growing its economy and has made governmental reforms to better accept and use these funds. This makes the funding process easier for countries like the U.S. and provides greater assurance that the funds will be allocated and implemented properly.

The way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica far outweighs the risk of investing in the county. Jamaica is a major economic partner to the U.S. The country is already a major tourist destination with developed infrastructure. Jamaica’s infrastructure boasts world-class transportation on land, air and sea, as well as a developed telecommunications system.

Funding toward the tourism sector would only strengthen it further, improving Jamaica’s economy. This, in turn, would help provide for Jamaica’s funders. This includes the countries that directly fund it through foreign aid, as well as those investing privately through businesses. These businesses include tourism but also focus on a variety of other fields such agribusiness, mining, energy and manufacturing.

Investing in Business

There are many ways in which Jamaica has made investing more accessible to countries like the U.S. and helped to ensure that both countries benefit as much as they can from it. One example is the improvement of credit access, which makes the starting of a business more accessible in consideration of price, especially for the electricity sector. It also affects how businesses are taxed and generally start-ups have a lower tax. Improved credit access provides the opportunity for more businesses to be formed and for more investments to be made toward them.

Democratic Ally

Another way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica is through similar political interests. The government of Jamaica is already a prime example of democracy, having elections every five years. Continuing aid and investment in the country will only help improve it. Jamaica is a democratic ally to the U.S., which not only benefits both countries politically but also economically. As aid continues to grow and both countries benefit from one another, this will serve to further an alliance between them.

There are many ways in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica, which is an incredibly beneficial country to invest in. Not only has government reform made it easy to fund and aid the country but also provides many ways for businesses and their investors to flourish. Jamaica is a strong economic benefit and ally to the U.S., as well as a great representative of democracy. A partnership and alliance will continue to grow between the two countries with the continued support of the U.S.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr

Recovering from a gruesome civil war that left the nation paralyzed between 1991 and 2001, Algeria has slowly been restoring the backbone of its infrastructure. Algeria’s infrastructure system is highly important, as it serves as a gateway between North Africa and Europe.

The Algerian government has launched an extensive public investment program in an effort to make transport a top priority. According to CountryWatch, in 2010, Algeria began “a five-year $286 billion development program to update its infrastructure and provide jobs.”

Another area of improvement that will directly impact infrastructure in Algeria is tourism. In 2012, the government began investing in the tourism sector and set a target of attracting 3.5 million tourists by 2015. The tourism sector has been the main focus of delivering employment in Algeria to better improve living conditions. The Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts, Hacène Mermouri, announced in December 2017 that 1,812 new hotel infrastructure projects have been approved by the Ministry.

These changes also impact nearby airports within the region. New terminals are being built to better accommodate international tourists in Oran and Algiers. Additional renovations include the establishment of Algeria’s first underground metro system, as well as extending roads and rail services.

The Ministry of Transport has reaped the successes from infrastructure in Algeria, earning €35.7 billion between 2010 and 2014. Such investments are expected to improve Algeria’s logistics performance, as well as reduce congestion and transport costs in a hub that serves as the primary source of transportation.

A surge in the number of vehicles that are to circulate Algeria’s roads is also concerning, leading the government to focus on expanding the country’s road network. According to the Ministry of Public Works, from the start of 2000 to 2014, the government invested in €46.9 billion in road infrastructure.

Some caveats that may impede Algeria’s growth in the near future are the fall of oil demand from nations such as the U.S., allocating between 20 to 25 percent of all Algerian exports. In addition, there has been a decrease in gas and oil production, of which Algeria ranks fourth and tenth as the largest exporter worldwide, respectively.

Per a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report, this decrease is putting increasing pressure on Algeria’s government to liberalize its economic and investment policies. Despite such internal worries, Algeria has significantly improved its logistics infrastructure, which had them ranked 140th in 2007, to which they have climbed to 96th out of 160 countries.

The central component of Algeria’s projected growth resonates with the success of the $262 billion five-year investment plan. This project is aimed at “boosting domestic production and moving the country’s economy away from oil and gas reliance,” per CountryWatch.

In a nation where poverty remains widespread, a high unemployment rate, particularly among the youth, is obstructing the country from any consistent growth. Moreover, PWC reports that the labor market is inefficient, ranking “last globally in the 2013 Global Competitiveness Index.”

Reforming institutions and monetary policies are vital to an environment crippled by political unrest and faced with strenuous complications. Infrastructure in Algeria, especially under the five-year plan, is set to ensure “significant continued development of transportation networks in the coming years,” as Oxford Business Group reports. Apart from the advertised objectives, the future of Algerian development is also contingent upon its domestic production. Algeria has a plan, but its path forward in a rapidly adjusting global system remains to be seen.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon

The French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon are located off the coast of Newfoundland and have a population of about 5,533, according to July 2017 data. It is estimated that about 90 percent of inhabitants live on St. Pierre, while a smaller population lives on Miquelon. The islands focus largely on the fishing industry and have for over a century, but overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon has led to Canada imposing a long-term closure of the industry, causing a negative ripple effect on the economy of the islands.

The overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon started when the United States repealed Prohibition in 1933. The islands’ thriving economy decreased dramatically and forced the laborers to turn back to fishing. Since then, Saint Pierre and Miquelon have constantly been fishing, leading to the overfishing problem.

In addition to the issue of overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, there has been a decline in the number of ships using the Saint Pierre harbor. This could be due to the weather and the natural environment of the islands. Surrounding the islands are “treacherous currents and fog [that] have contributed to hundreds of shipwrecks off Saint Pierre and Miquelon.”

The four-mile strip of water between Saint Pierre and Miquelon is called “The Mouth of Hell” by the local fisherman because of the strong currents that have contributed to about 600 shipwrecks near the islands. The residents of Saint Pierre and Miquelon have used this to their benefit, as they can add to their earnings from fishing somewhat by salvaging the wreckage.

Dealing with overfishing in Saint Pierre and Miquelon has not been easy for the residents of the islands, but there has been some progress with sustainability and trying to stabilize the island’s economy, as the residents have turned to other kinds of seafood fishing such as crab fishing. They have slowly developed other types of agricultural farming, including vegetables, poultry, cattle, sheep and pigs. The government of Saint Pierre and Miquelon is also working to grow its tourism industry. With the hope of more tourism on the islands, a more sustainable way of fishing and more farming, Saint Pierre and Miquelon’s prospects are looking brighter and more stable.

Jennifer Lightle

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Andorra

Mountains draw people to the European microstate of Andorra, which offers the best skiing and resorts in the Pyrenees. Prior to World War II and the modernization of Andorra, subsistence agriculture was the dominant industry, even though its mountainous geography is not conducive to large agricultural gain. After the war and the integration of Europe, Andorra quickly modernized and moved toward a lucrative service economy based on tourism. Today, with the rise of the tourism industry, agriculture makes up a small proportion of Andorra‘s industry. Most families own hotels, restaurants and other businesses rather than supporting themselves through farming, greatly increasing their quality of life and wealth.

Andorra has a very low poverty rate due to its booming service economy fueled by its tourism industry. Over 95% of people work in the service industry and only 3.7% of people were unemployed as of 2016. Poverty is so low that the percentage of the population below the poverty line is not measured. One can help people in Andorra stay out of poverty by supporting the Andorran tourism industry, thus sustaining Andorra’s equitable living standards and strong economy, with the added benefit of exploring Andorra’s culture in its beautiful Pyrenees location.

As of 2016, Andorra’s population was 77,281. Its GDP from the year prior was $3.327 billion. Its GDP per capita from 2015 was $49,900, making it the twenty-fifth wealthiest nation in the world as of 2015. These figures show the country’s strength and the lack of direct need to help people in Andorra.

Although there is not a crucial need for foreigners to help people in Andorra, it is important to maintain the success of Andorra, which can only continue by foreigners continuing to visit Andorra and support its tourism industry — an enjoyable way for one to help Andorrans.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in San Marino

San Marino is a small, landlocked country located within Italy. It is a remnant from a time when city states dotted the European landscape. San Marino is believed to be the world’s oldest surviving republic, and tourism plays the largest role in the economy. More than three million people visit the republic each year. However, the nation still struggles with poverty. Here is a look at causes of poverty in San Marino.

One of the causes of poverty in San Marino was the recession of 2008. San Marino‘s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, and the recession incited a drop in tourism rates.

Although tourism is a large part of the economy, San Marino also acted as a tax haven for the wealthy people of Europe. This changed when the European Union and Italy pressured San Marino into going along with a crackdown on tax evasion and money laundering.

The United States Department of State reported that the strict regulations placed on the financial sector has led to a decrease in money laundering. There is not a large enough market for illegal goods, so most money laundering was done on the behalf of people outside of the country looking to avoid higher tax rates in their own countries.

A number of top executives at the Cassa di Risparmio della Repubblica di San Marino were arrested on money laundering charges. This was the nation’s top bank, so the arrests dealt a heavy blow to the nation’s economy. Thus, while it is good for the global economy, the inability to launder money is another one of the causes of poverty in San Marino.

The government of San Marino has taken actions in order to combat the economic downturn, which includes subsidized credit for businesses. San Marino has also taken steps to move its economic growth model away from a dependence on bank and tax secrecy.

Due to its low corporate taxes compared to other nations, the economy can profit from foreign investment as well. San Marino’s income tax is also about one-third the amount compared to other nations in the EU.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) removed the small nation from its list of tax havens that have not fully complied with global tax standards in 2009. San Marino also signed tax information exchange agreements with most major nations in 2010.

Causes of poverty in San Marino are largely due to the loss of tourism and its strict regulations on the financial sector, but with its advantages for foreign investments, the small nation hopes to turn its economic woes around.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr

Hurdling Over Causes of Poverty in Palau

Palau is an island country located in the west Pacific Ocean. The country has attempted to circumvent the common causes of poverty in Palau by bringing the United States on board with its economic policies.

History
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the United Nations assigned the U.S. the task of administering authority in a few Pacific islands, including Palau. The U.S. helped Palau by building roads, hospitals and schools and eventually extending eligibility for U.S. federal programs. Palau flourished and obtained independence in 1994. As a sovereign nation, Palau makes its own decisions about its economy.

A Helping Hand
As of 2008, the U.S. hoped to influence Palau’s economy for the better, keeping economic-related causes of poverty in Palau at bay. The U.S. continued to give millions to Palau’s economy, especially through federal programs. The U.S. also made sure to assist private sector growth in Palau. The U.S. economic support in Palau is essential to ensure Palau’s financial system, labor and commercial sectors are thriving. If these vital sectors collapsed, the general population would face poverty because the country would experience a great drain of economic power.

Between 1995 and 2009, the U.S. gave approximately $852 million to Palau to help the island become a self-sufficient economy.

Does the Aid Help?
While Palau businesses’ financial coffers are seemingly robust due to U.S. aid, there are disproportionate sectors of the population that continue to face common causes of poverty. For example, since Palau is an island, some of its population earns a living through fishing.

Fishing is an accessible way to earn a living to keep poverty at bay. However, almost a third of the fish stocks in the world are overfished or overused. Trade barriers also prevent local fishermen and producers from meeting the high standards that international markets demand. Overfishing causes damage to nature and to the cycle of life. In turn, fishermen may be damaging their financial futures.

Fortunately, Palau noted that fishing would help erode poverty in its more remote areas. The government of Palau started a shark sanctuary. The idea behind the sanctuary was to encourage conversation about conservation and to draw a higher number of tourists to boost the local economy.

Tourism is a leading economic contributor to revenue in Palau. There was a dramatic increase in visitors from relatively nearby China. In 2016, Palau hosted over 138,000 tourists—not only from China, but around the world. Now, Palau plans on preserving its natural beauty, including its fisheries, to continue to benefit from this revenue.

By having the U.S. support its economic endeavors and establishing its own industries, Palau is ensuring that it has a sound plan to effectively combat any remaining causes of poverty in Palau.

Smriti Krishnan

Photo: Flickr

Tonga Poverty RateThe Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga is home to around 102,000 people. Tonga is an archipelago comprised of 171 islands, only 45 of which are inhabited. In 2005, the U.N. estimated 77 percent of the population lives in rural areas.

The poverty rate in Tonga is 22.1 percent; in other words, one out of every five Tongans lives below the poverty line. Among the eight nations in the Pacific region, Tonga has the third lowest poverty rate, proceeded by the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

Tonga’s impoverished communities are primarily in rural areas on the outer islands. The main island of Tongatapu has the highest GDP per capita, but the citizens of the farther islands of ‘Eau, Ha’apai, the Niuas and Vava’u struggle to find work. The higher poverty rates on these islands are due to a lack of access to goods, transportation and marketing opportunities.

The poverty rate in Tonga worsened after the 2008 global financial crisis. The cost of living skyrocketed due to increased prices of imported fuel and food. The crisis also caused Tongans overseas to lose their jobs in fields such as construction and landscaping, rendering them unable to send money back home. It is estimated that there are more Tongalese expatriates than current citizens, and many of them reside in the neighboring countries of Australia and New Zealand.

Tonga’s economy is primarily agricultural. Their main cash crops are squash, fish, copra and coconut products, vanilla bean extract and bananas. Tonga’s main mode of foreign exchange is through agricultural exports, tourism and remittances. The Tongalese economy also relies on foreign aid to offset its chronic trade deficit.

The biggest hope for improving the Tongan economy is tourism. Tonga hopes to increase high-value tourism among the outer islands, which have white sandy beaches and ideal sailing conditions. The Tongan tourism industry still has problems with remoteness, infrastructure and poor marketing. However, conditions are improving. In January 2011, tourist receipts totaled 60 million Tongan dollars, the highest point in the last decade.

Like many countries, Tonga is still in the process of rebuilding its economy after the 2008 financial shock. International cooperation will also be instrumental in doing so, as Tonga continues to rely on foreign aid for emergency assistance and filling the gaps in trade deficits. With further cooperation and the development of local markets, there is hope to lift many more Tongans out of poverty.

Hannah Seitz

Photo: Flickr