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Flag of Cook Islands
Map of Cook Islands
Introduction Cook Islands
Named after Captain COOK, who sighted them in 1770, the islands became a British protectorate in 1888. By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand; in 1965 residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand. The emigration of skilled workers to New Zealand and government deficits are continuing problems.
Geography Cook Islands
Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates:
21 14 S, 159 46 W
Map references:
total: 236.7 sq km
land: 236.7 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
1.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
120 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
tropical oceanic; moderated by trade winds; a dry season from April to November and a more humid season from December to March
low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Te Manga 652 m
Natural resources:
Land use:
arable land: 16.67%
permanent crops: 8.33%
other: 75% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Natural hazards:
typhoons (November to March)
Environment - current issues:
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
the northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls; the southern Cook Islands, where most of the population lives, consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles, including the largest, Rarotonga, at 67 sq km
People Cook Islands
21,388 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 34.1% (male 2,718/female 2,388)
15-64 years: 59.5% (male 4,531/female 4,395)
65 years and over: 6.4% (male 489/female 469) (2001 census)
Median age:
total: 25.3 years
male: 24.7 years
female: 25.9 years (2001 census)
Population growth rate:
-1.2% between 1996-2001 (2001 census)
Birth rate:
21 births/1,000 population (2001 census)
Death rate:
NA deaths/1,000 population
Sex ratio:
107 male(s)/female (2001 census)
Infant mortality rate:
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA
Total fertility rate:
3.1 children born/woman (2001 census)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Cook Islander(s)
adjective: Cook Islander
Ethnic groups:
Cook Island Maori (Polynesian) 87.7%, part Cook Island Maori 5.8%, other 6.5% (2001 census)
Cook Islands Christian Church 55.9%, Roman Catholic 16.8%, Seventh-Day Adventists 7.9%, Church of Latter Day Saints 3.8%, other Protestant 5.8%, other 4.2%, unspecified 2.6%, none 3% (2001 census)
English (official), Maori
definition: NA
total population: 95%
male: NA%
female: NA%
People - note:
2001 census counted a resident population of 15,017
Government Cook Islands
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
former: Harvey Islands
Dependency status:
self-governing in free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands is fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense, in consultation with the Cook Islands
Government type:
self-governing parliamentary democracy
name: Avarua
geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
none (became self-governing in free association with New Zealand on 4 August 1965 and has the right at any time to move to full independence by unilateral action)
National holiday:
Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)
4 August 1965
Legal system:
based on New Zealand law and English common law
NA years of age; universal adult
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Frederick GOODWIN (since 9 February 2001); New Zealand High Commissioner John BRYAN (since 6 September 2005), representative of New Zealand
head of government: Prime Minister Jim MARURAI (since 14 December 2004); Deputy Prime Minister Terepai MAOATE (since 9 August 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the UK representative is appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner is appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually becomes prime minister
Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consisting of a lower house or Legislative Assembly with 25 seats (24 seats representing districts of the Cook Islands and one seat representing Cook Islanders living overseas; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and an upper house or House of Ariki made up of traditional leaders
elections: last held 26 September 2006 (next to be held by 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - Demo 51.9%, CIP 45.5%, independent 2.7%; seats by party - Demo 15, CIP 8, independent 1
note: the House of Ariki advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence, but has no legislative powers
Judicial branch:
High Court
Political parties and leaders:
Cook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]; Democratic Party or Demo [Dr. Terepai MAOATE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Flag description:
blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large circle of 15 white five-pointed stars (one for every island) centered in the outer half of the flag
Economy Cook Islands
Economy - overview:
Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure. Agriculture, employing about 70% of the working population, provides the economic base with major exports made up of copra and citrus fruit. Black pearls are the Cook Island's leading export. Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit processing, clothing, and handicrafts. Trade deficits are offset by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand. In the 1980s and 1990s, the country lived beyond its means, maintaining a bloated public service and accumulating a large foreign debt. Subsequent reforms, including the sale of state assets, the strengthening of economic management, the encouragement of tourism, and a debt restructuring agreement, have rekindled investment and growth.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$183.2 million (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$183.2 million (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.1% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$9,100 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 15.1%
industry: 9.6%
services: 75.3% (2004)
Labor force:
6,820 (2001)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 29%
industry: 15%
services: 56% (1995)
Unemployment rate:
13.1% (2005)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.1% (2005 est.)
revenues: $70.95 million
expenditures: $69.05 million; including capital expenditures of $5.744 million (FY05/06)
Agriculture - products:
copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry
fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
1% (2002)
Electricity - production:
28 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
26.04 million kWh (2004 est.)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - consumption:
420 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance:
$26.67 million (2005)
$5.222 million (2005)
Exports - commodities:
copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing
Exports - partners:
Australia 34%, Japan 27%, New Zealand 25%, US 8% (2004)
$81.04 million (2005)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods
Imports - partners:
New Zealand 61%, Fiji 19%, US 9%, Australia 6%, Japan 2% (2004)
Debt - external:
$141 million (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$13.1 million; note - New Zealand continues to furnish the greater part (1995)
Currency (code):
New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
New Zealand dollars per US dollar - 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004), 1.7221 (2003), 2.1622 (2002)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Cook Islands
Telephones - main lines in use:
6,200 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
1,500 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: Telecom Cook Islands offers international direct dialing, Internet, email, fax, and Telex
domestic: the individual islands are connected by a combination of satellite earth stations, microwave systems, and VHF and HF radiotelephone; within the islands, service is provided by small exchanges connected to subscribers by open-wire, cable, and fiber-optic cable
international: country code - 682; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (2004)
14,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
1 (outer islands receive satellite broadcasts) (2004)
4,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
1,456 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)
Internet users:
3,600 (2002)
Transportation Cook Islands
9 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (2006)
total: 320 km
paved: 33 km
unpaved: 287 km (2003)
Merchant marine:
total: 6 ships (1000 GRT or over) 48,422 GRT/51,900 DWT
by type: cargo 2, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 3
foreign-owned: 5 (Norway 1, NZ 1, Sweden 3) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Military Cook Islands
Military branches:
no regular military forces; Ministry of Police and Disaster Management (2005)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request
Transnational Issues Cook Islands
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007