Vavaʻu is the island group of one large island (ʻUtu Vavaʻu) and 40 smaller ones in Tonga. It is part of Vavaʻu District which includes several other individual islands. According to tradition the Maui god fished up both Tongatapu and Vavaʻu but put a little more effort into the former. Vavaʻu rises 204 metres (669 ft) above sea level at Mount Talau. The capital is Neiafu, which is the fifth largest city in Tonga, situated at the Port of Refuge (Puatalefusi or Lolo-ʻa-Halaevalu).
Tongatapu is the main island of the Kingdom of Tonga and the location of its capital Nukuʻalofa. It is located in Tonga’s southern island group, to which it gives its name, and is the country’s most populous island, with approximately 71,260 residents (2006), 70.5% of the national population, on 260 square kilometres (100 square miles). Its maximum height is 65 metres (213 feet). Tongatapu is Tonga’s centre of government and the seat of its monarchy.
Tongatapu has experienced more rapid economic development than the other islands of the Kingdom, and has thus attracted many internal migrants from them.
Tongatapu was first sighted by Europeans on 20 January 1643 by Abel Janszoon Tasman commanding two ships, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen commissioned by the Dutch East India Company of Batavia (Jakarta). Tasman named the island “t’ Eijlandt Amsterdam” (Amsterdam Island), because of its abundance of supplies. This name is no longer used except by historians.