Tonga adopts what3words as national postal addressing system


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Tonga Post, serving 36 islands in the South Pacific, adopts 3 word addresses to improve national infrastructure

what3words, the multi-award winning addressing system, has been adopted as an addressing standard by Tonga Post. The Kingdom of Tonga is the first nation in the region, and the fourth in the world to adopt 3 word addresses to improve its national infrastructure.


With 170 islands scattered over 700,000 square kilometres of ocean, delivering anything to anyone is a challenge. 36 of Tonga’s islands are inhabited, with a population of approximately 103,000 citizens. With only a few named streets on a handful of islands, delivering mail is a constant struggle for Tonga Post, the nation’s official postal system.

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Until recently, home delivery was restricted to express mail in the city of Nuku’alofa, the capital of the Kingdom. Any other post would be delivered to centralised PO Boxes, with the recipient responsible for collection. That resulted in high volumes of undelivered mail, taking up space and incurring extra costs for Tonga Post.

By using what3words, every location in the Kingdom of Tonga now has an instant address. what3words provides an easy-to-use, accurate, and fixed address for every 3m x 3m square in the world. By making this addressing system part of the country’s infrastructure, Tonga Post is helping unlock the region’s economic growth and social development.  


Using 3 word addresses for Tonga’s Postal system is both practical and user friendly for residents, as well as time and cost efficient for the company. Today half of all Tongan Nationals live abroad, and almost every household has a relative resident in another country. 3 word addresses will ensure packages or deliveries from the extensive Tongan diaspora make it home. The system also enables the company to generate revenue from handling more inbound international parcels, as well as from e-commerce from Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

The volume of international mail we have to deal with has increased dramatically in recent years and consumption of e-commerce is rapidly rising across the islands. It’s essential we have the delivery infrastructure that can meet this demand, from customers in cities to those on the smallest islands. What3words’ system has already addressed everywhere in Tonga so we can roll out our service immediately.

Siosifa Pomana, Tonga Post’s CEO

Tonga Post is planning an expansive education campaign, including visiting customers’ homes, providing brochures, flyers and other informational material.

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Available in fourteen languages, including English, French and Spanish, what3words is used by individuals, delivery companies, navigation tools, governments, logistics firms, travel guides and NGOs. It is more precise than traditional addresses, simpler than descriptions, and easier to communicate and remember than long strings of GPS coordinates. The system has built-in error detection and is available both as a mobile app and API integration. The system works offline without a data connection, ensuring it can be used everywhere.  

Every postal service in the world struggles with addressing. Tonga Post have an ambitious mind-set and by implementing 3 word addresses they have a solution that works today. Whether the population is spread over islands, deserts, cities or villages, 3 word addresses are helping citizens across the word access services exactly where they need to.

Chris Shedrick, CEO and Co-Founder of what3words
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The partnership was finalised during a recent “Addressing the Future” forum, held in Nuku’alofa on 24-26 January 2017. The business forum looked at ways to further develop e-commerce across the South Pacific and was attended by postal services from The Cook Islands, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu as well as Australia and New Zealand.

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