In the Kingdom of Tonga, migration to overseas developed countries has prevailed. To elucidate the effects of migration on population dynamics, an interview survey was conducted in the migrant-sending community of Kolovai, in the outer region of Tongatapu Island. All births, deaths, marriages and in- and out-migrations that took place between 1983 and 2002 were recorded for all members of the ‘Kolovai population’, consisting of persons who had lived in this community for at least a one-year period during this 20 years. The ‘Kolovai population’ members, numbering 1184 (564 males and 620 females), were divided into three groups based on residence at the end of each year, i.e. Kolovai (called KK), other places in Tonga (KT) or overseas countries (KO). The KK population decreased from 774 in 1982 to 570 in 2002, owing mostly to an increase of 167 persons as the natural balance and a decrease of 324 persons as the balance of international migration. Comparison of total fertility rate (TFR) between KK and KO women revealed that the mean TFR of the former decreased from 3·460 in the earlier 10-year period (1983–1992) to 2·240 in the later 10-year period (1993–2002), while that of the latter was more than 3·5 in both 10-year periods. This difference was largely due to the decrease in the proportion married among KK women. If the current trends of international migration and fertility continue, the population of Kolovai will be reduced and its age composition will become cylinder-shaped in the near future.