Tongan Americans

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Tongan Americans
Jabari Parker Bucks.jpg
Lei'D Tapa November 2012.jpg
Haloti Ngata 2009.jpg
Samu Manoa 2013 (cropped).jpg
Will Tukuafu.JPG
Tama Tonga 2015.JPG
Total population
41,219 alone, 0.01% of US population
57,183 including partial ancestry, 0.02%
(2010 Census)
Regions with significant populations
California (San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Los Angeles Area)  • Utah (Salt Lake County)  • Hawaii  • Nevada (Reno)  • Texas (Euless)
American English, Tongan
Methodists and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Related ethnic groups
Pacific Islanders, Tongan people, Tongan Australians

Tongan Americans are Americans who can trace their ancestry to the Oceanian country of the Kingdom of Tonga. There are approximately 57,000 Tongans and Tongan Americans living in the United States, as of 2012.[1] Tongans are considered to be Pacific Islanders in the United States Census, and are the fourth largest Pacific Islander American group in terms of population, after Native Hawaiians, Samoan Americans, and Guamanian/Chamorro Americans.


First of all it should be noted that Mormon missionaries have been most instrumental in encouraging Tongan immigration to the United States. The Mormon Church has assisted Tongans in immigration to the United States by providing student and work visas, employment, and the opportunity for Tongans of marriageable age to meet spouses.[2]

The San Francisco Bay Area has the largest concentration of ethnic Tongans outside of Tonga, with an estimated population of 13,000 in San Mateo County alone, concentrated especially in the city of East Palo Alto.[1] Within San Mateo County, the city of San Mateo, San Bruno, and South San Francisco have sizable Tongan populations. Other Bay Area cities with significant Tongan populations include the East Bay cities of Oakland, San Leandro, Concord, and Pittsburg. Smaller communities can be found in Santa Clara County, mainly in Mountain View.[3] There are 500 people of Tongan descent living in Portland, Oregon (0.1% of the city's population).

The state of Utah has a large presence of Tongan Americans, and a significant Pacific Islander population in general. Tongans first started immigrating to Utah because of their attraction to the abundant amount of LDS congregations in the state. As of 2011, Utah has around 30 branches of Tongan Latter-day Saint churches. About one of four people of Tongan descent living in the U.S. live in Utah. Salt Lake County has more than 9,000 Tongan Americans in residence. Nearly 3,000 people of Tongan descent live in Salt Lake City alone.[4]

Euless, Texas has a sizable Tongan community. At least ten Tongan churches are present in Euless.[5]

Other American cities with significant Tongan American populations include: the Greater Los Angeles Area city of Inglewood, Hawthorne, and the Inland Empire subregion. Anchorage, Alaska; Kona, Hawaii; Lahaina, Hawaii, and Reno, Nevada.


Many Tongan Americans, like other Polynesian ethnic groups such as Samoan Americans, are known for their involvement in mainstream American sports. Several NFL players are of Tongan descent, such as Seattle Seahawks player Will Tukuafu, Carolina Panthers player Amini Silatolu, and Baltimore Ravens players Haloti Ngata and Ma'ake Kemoeatu. Jabari Parker, with an African American father and Tongan mother, plays for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, and Tony Finau, of both Tongan and Samoan descent, plays on the PGA Tour. Steven Adams plays for the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Tongans mourn passing of king". San Mateo Daily Journal. March 20, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Cooper, Amy. Everyculture: Tongan Americans
  3. Kyriakou, Niko (September 3, 2011). "San Mateo County Tongan population looks for strength". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Davidson, Lee (September 12, 2011). "One of every four Tongans in U.S. calls Utah home". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Longman, Jere (October 9, 2008). "An island for Tongans in a Texas high school". New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links