The Kingdom of Tonga is a small confederation of islands forming an archipelago in the south Pacific. One of the smallest countries in the world in area and population, Tonga has a long history of interaction with the colonial powers and empires of Europe. Isolated from much of the world geographically, the country's closest neighbors are Fiji, Samoa, and Vauatu. Tonga is one of the few states in the world never to have lost its sovereignty, having always been governed exclusively by its indigenous people. It has existed in its present monarchic form since it joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970. Political reforms beginning in 2010 have seen Tonga take further steps towards becoming a constitutional monarchy rather than an absolute monarchy.