A country in the southwest Pacific Ocean east of Fiji comprising about 150 islands, some 36 of which are inhabited. Long inhabited by Polynesians, the islands were sighted by the Dutch in 1616 and visited by the British navigator Capt. James Cook, who named them “The Friendly Islands” in the late 1700s. It became a British protectorate in 1900 and gained independence as a constitutional monarchy in 1970. Nuku'alofa is the capital and the largest city.