Tonga is a Polynesian kingdom of more than 170 islands, many uninhabited, most lined in white beaches and coral reefs and covered with tropical rainforest. Tonga became known as the Friendly Islands because of the congenial reception accorded to Captain James Cook on his first visit in 1773. He arrived at the time of the ʻinasi festival, the yearly donation of the First Fruits to the Tuʻi Tonga (the islands' paramount chief) and so received an invitation to the festivities. The island acquired its independence in 1970 and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is one of the few indigenous monarchies in the Pacific.