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Australia-Oceania :: Cook Islands
(self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Page last updated on June 23, 2015
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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, government deficits, and limited natural resources are of continuing concern.
  • Geography :: COOK ISLANDS

  • Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand
    21 14 S, 159 46 W
    total: 236 sq km
    land: 236 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    1.3 times the size of Washington, DC
    0 km
    120 km
    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
    lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Te Manga 652 m
    coconuts (copra)
    agricultural land: 8.4%
    arable land 4.2%; permanent crops 4.2%; permanent pasture 0%
    forest: 64.6%
    other: 27% (2011 est.)
    typhoons (November to March)
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
    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 and Society :: COOK ISLANDS

  • noun: Cook Islander(s)
    adjective: Cook Islander
    Cook Island Maori (Polynesian) 81.3%, part Cook Island Maori 6.7%, other 11.9% (2011 est.)
    English (official) 86.4%, Cook Islands Maori (Rarotongan) (official) 76.2%, other 8.3%
    note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census (2011 est.)
    Protestant 62.8% (Cook Islands Christian Church 49.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 7.9%, Assemblies of God 3.7%, Apostolic Church 2.1%), Roman Catholic 17%, Mormon 4.4%, other 8%, none 5.6%, no response 2.2% (2011 est.)
    note: the Cook Islands' Ministry of Finance & Economic Management estimated the resident population to have been 13,700 in September 2013 (July 2014 est.)
    0-14 years: 22.8% (male 1,224/female 1,084)
    15-24 years: 17.9% (male 971/female 845)
    25-54 years: 38% (male 1,937/female 1,917)
    55-64 years: 10.3% (male 555/female 487)
    65 years and over: 11% (male 548/female 566) (2014 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total: 34.4 years
    male: 33.8 years
    female: 35 years (2014 est.)
    -3% (2014 est.)
    14.7 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    7.8 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
    urban population: 74.3% of total population (2014)
    rate of urbanization: 0.88% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
    at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
    total: 14.33 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 17.43 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 11.08 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
    total population: 75.38 years
    male: 72.56 years
    female: 78.33 years (2014 est.)
    2.27 children born/woman (2014 est.)
    3.1% of GDP (2013)
    1.33 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
    urban: 99.9% of population
    rural: 99.9% of population
    total: 99.9% of population
    urban: 0.1% of population
    rural: 0.1% of population
    total: 0.1% of population (2012 est.)
    urban: 97.2% of population
    rural: 97.2% of population
    total: 97.2% of population
    urban: 2.8% of population
    rural: 2.8% of population
    total: 2.8% of population (2012 est.)
    50% (2014)
    3.1% of GDP (2011)
    total: 15 years
    male: 16 years
    female: 15 years (2012)
  • Government :: COOK ISLANDS

  • conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Cook Islands
    former: Harvey Islands
    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
    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)
    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)
    Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)
    effective 4 August 1965 (Cook islands Constitution Act 1964); amended many times, last in 2004 (2004)
    common law similar to New Zealand common law
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration (New Zealand normally retains responsibility for external affairs); accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952) represented by Tom J. MARSTERS (since 9 August 2013); New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna KEMPKERS (since 19 July 2013)
    head of government: Prime Minister Henry PUNA (since 30 November 2010)
    cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
    elections: the monarchy is hereditary; the UK representative appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner 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
    description: unicameral Parliament, formerly the Legislative Assembly (24 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the House of Ariki, a 24-member parliamentary body of traditional leaders appointed by the Queen's representative serves as a consultative body to the Parliament
    elections: last held on 9 July 2014 (next to be held by 2018)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CIP 13, Demo 8, One Cook Islands Movement 2, 1 undecided
    highest reident court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and 3 judges of the High Court); High Court (consists of the chief justice and at least 4 judges and organized into civil, criminal, and land divisions); note - appeals beyond the Cook Islands Court of Appeal are brought before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
    judge selection and term of office: High Court chief justice appointed by the Queen's Representative on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the prime minister; other judges appointed by the Queen's Representative, on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the chief justice, High Court chief justice, and the minister of justice; chief justice and judges appointed for 3-year renewable terms
    subordinate courts: justices of the peace
    Cook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]
    Democratic Party or Demo [Dr. Terepai MAOATE]
    One Cook Islands Movement [Teina BISHOP]
    Reform Conference (lobby for political system changes)
    other: various groups lobbying for political change
    none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
    none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
    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
    a circle of 15, five-pointed, white stars on a blue field; national colors: blue, white
    name: "Te Atua Mou E" (To God Almighty)
    lyrics/music: Tepaeru Te RITO/Thomas DAVIS
    note: adopted 1982; as prime minister, Sir Thomas DAVIS composed the anthem; his wife, a tribal chief, wrote the lyrics
  • Economy :: COOK ISLANDS

  • 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 more than one-quarter of the working population, provides the economic base with major exports of copra and citrus fruit. Black pearls are the Cook Islands' 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.
    $183.2 million (2005 est.)
    $183.2 million (2005 est.)
    0.1% (2005 est.)
    $9,100 (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 136
    agriculture: 5.1%
    industry: 12.7%
    services: 82.1% (2010 est.)
    copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry
    fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts
    1% (2002)
    6,820 (2001)
    agriculture: 29%
    industry: 15%
    services: 56% (1995)
    13.1% (2005)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $70.95 million
    expenditures: $69.05 million (FY05/06)
    38.7% of GDP (FY05/06 est.)
    1% of GDP (FY05/06 est.)
    1 April - 31 March
    2.2% (2011 est.)
    $38.99 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $38.99 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $148.2 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $170.9 million (31 December 2010 est.)
    $26.67 million (2005)
    $3,000 (2011 est.)
    $5.222 million (2005 est.)
    copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing
    $83.49 million (2011 est.)
    $80.55 million (2010 est.)
    foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods
    $141 million (1996 est.)
    NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar -
    1.21 (2013)
    1.22 (2013 est.)
    1.23 (2012 est.)
    1.26 (2011 est.)
    1.39 (2010)
  • Energy :: COOK ISLANDS

  • 32.13 million kWh (2011 est.)
    29.88 million kWh (2011 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    0 kWh (2013 est.)
    8,090 kW (2011 est.)
    98.9% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    1.1% of total installed capacity (2011 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    1,050 bbl/day (2013 est.)
    0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    484.7 bbl/day (2010 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (2012 est.)
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    150,300 Mt (2012 est.)
  • Communications :: COOK ISLANDS

  • 7,200 (2009)
    7,800 (2009)
    general assessment: Telecom Cook Islands offers international direct dialing, Internet, email, fax, and Telex
    domestic: 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)
    1 privately owned TV station broadcasts from Rarotonga providing a mix of local news and overseas-sourced programs; a satellite program package is available; 6 radio stations broadcast with 1 reportedly reaching all of the islands (2009)
    AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (2004)
    1 (outer islands receive satellite broadcasts) (2004)
    3,562 (2012)
    6,000 (2009)
  • Transportation :: COOK ISLANDS

  • 11 (2013)
    total: 1
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    total: 10
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
    914 to 1,523 m: 7
    under 914 m:
    1 (2013)
    total: 320 km
    paved: 33 km
    unpaved: 287 km (2003)
    total: 35
    by type: bulk carrier 2, cargo 25, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 1
    foreign-owned: 23 (Estonia 1, Germany 1, Lithuania 1, Norway 8, NZ 2, Russia 1, Sweden 3, Turkey 4, UK 2) (2010)
    major seaport(s): Avatiu
  • Military :: COOK ISLANDS

  • no regular military forces; National Police Department (2009)
    males age 16-49: 2,198
    females age 16-49: 2,156 (2010 est.)
    male: 127
    female: 107 (2010 est.)
    defense is the responsibility of New Zealand in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request
  • Transnational Issues :: COOK ISLANDS

  • none