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Australia - Oceania :: Cook Islands Print
Page last updated on December 08, 2018
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COOK ISLANDS
  • Introduction :: Cook Islands
  • Background field listing
    Named after Captain COOK, who sighted them in the 1770s, 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
  • Location field listing
    Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    21 14 S, 159 46 W
    Map references field listing
    Oceania
    Area field listing
    total: 236 sq km
    land: 236 sq km
    water: 0 sq km
    country comparison to the world: 215
    Area - comparative field listing
    1.3 times the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Coastline field listing
    120 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
    Climate field listing
    tropical oceanic; moderated by trade winds; a dry season from April to November and a more humid season from December to March
    Terrain field listing
    low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south
    Elevation field listing
    0 m lowest point: Pacific Ocean
    652 highest point: Te Manga
    Natural resources field listing
    coconuts (copra)
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 8.4% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 4.2% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 4.2% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 0% (2011 est.)
    forest: 64.6% (2011 est.)
    other: 27% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land field listing
    NA
    Population distribution field listing
    most of the population is found on the island of Rarotonga
    Natural hazards field listing
    tropical cyclones (November to March)
    Environment - current issues field listing
    limited land presents solid and liquid waste disposal problems; soil destruction and deforestation; environmental degradation due to indiscriminant use of pesticides; improper disposal of pollutants; overfishing and destructive fishing practices; over dredging of lagoons and coral rubble beds; unregulated building
    Environment - international agreements field listing
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
    Geography - note field listing
    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
  • Population field listing
    9,038 (July 2017 est.) (July 2018 est.)

    note: the Cook Islands' Ministry of Finance & Economic Management estimated the resident population to have been 11,700 in September 2016

    country comparison to the world: 224
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Cook Islander(s)
    adjective: Cook Islander
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Cook Island Maori (Polynesian) 81.3%, part Cook Island Maori 6.7%, other 11.9% (2011 est.)
    Languages field listing
    English (official) 86.4%, Cook Islands Maori (Rarotongan) (official) 76.2%, other 8.3% (2011 est.)

    note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census

    Religions field listing
    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.)
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 20.68% (male 987 /female 882)
    15-24 years: 15.99% (male 774 /female 671)
    25-54 years: 38.06% (male 1,710 /female 1,730)
    55-64 years: 12.72% (male 627 /female 523)
    65 years and over: 12.55% (male 558 /female 576) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age field listing
    total: 37.2 years
    male: 36.7 years
    female: 37.6 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 67
    Population growth rate field listing
    -2.72% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 233
    Birth rate field listing
    13.7 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 138
    Death rate field listing
    8.6 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    Population distribution field listing
    most of the population is found on the island of Rarotonga
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 75.1% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 0.37% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.12 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 1.14 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 1.17 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 12.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 15.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 9.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 107
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 76.2 years (2018 est.)
    male: 73.4 years (2018 est.)
    female: 79.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Total fertility rate field listing
    2.16 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    Health expenditures field listing
    3.4% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    Physicians density field listing
    1.19 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
    Drinking water source field listing
    improved: urban: 99.9% of population
    rural: 99.9% of population
    total: 99.9% of population
    unimproved: urban: 0.1% of population
    rural: 0.1% of population
    total: 0.1% of population (2015 est.)
    Sanitation facility access field listing
    improved: urban: 97.6% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 97.6% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 97.6% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 2.4% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 2.4% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 2.4% of population (2015 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    NA
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate field listing
    55.9% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 2
    Education expenditures field listing
    4.7% of GDP (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) field listing
    total: 15 years (2015)
    male: 15 years (2015)
    female: 16 years (2015)
  • Government :: Cook Islands
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Cook Islands
    former: Hervey Islands
    etymology: named after Captain James COOK, the British explorer who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777
    Dependency status field listing
    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 field listing
    self-governing parliamentary democracy (Parliament of the Cook Islands) in free association with New Zealand
    Capital field listing
    name: Avarua
    geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
    time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    Administrative divisions field listing
    none
    Independence field listing
    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 field listing
    Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)
    Constitution field listing
    history: 4 August 1965 (Cook Islands Constitution Act 1964) (2017)
    amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Parliament membership in each of several readings and assent to by the chief of state’s representative; passage of amendments relating to the chief of state also requires two-thirds majority approval in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2004 (2017)
    International law organization participation field listing
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration (New Zealand normally retains responsibility for external affairs); accepts ICCt jurisdiction
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Tom J. MARSTERS (since 9 August 2013); New Zealand High Commissioner Peter MARSHALL (since 10 January 2017)
    head of government: Prime Minister Henry PUNA (since 30 November 2010)
    cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister
    elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; UK representative appointed by the monarch; New Zealand high commissioner appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually becomes prime minister
    Legislative branch field listing
    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 14 June 2018 (next to be held by 2022)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Demo 11, CIP 10, One Cook Islands Movement 1, independent 2; composition - men 15, women 9, percent of women 37.5%
    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: 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 heard by 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
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Cook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]
    Democratic Party or Demo [Tina BROWNE]
    One Cook Islands Movement [Teina BISHOP]
    International organization participation field listing
    ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IMO, IMSO, IOC, ITUC (NGOs), OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
    Flag description field listing
    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
    National symbol(s) field listing
    a circle of 15, five-pointed, white stars on a blue field, Tiare maori (Gardenia taitensis) flower; national colors: green, white
    National anthem field listing
    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
  • Economy - overview field listing
    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 became overextended, 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. The government is targeting fisheries and seabed mining as sectors for future economic growth.
    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $299.9 million (2016 est.)
    $183.2 million (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $299.9 million (2016 est.) (2016 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    0.1% (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $16,700 (2016 est.)
    $9,100 (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 106
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 5.1% (2010 est.)
    industry: 12.7% (2010 est.)
    services: 82.1% (2010 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry
    Industries field listing
    fishing, fruit processing, tourism, clothing, handicrafts
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    1% (2002)
    country comparison to the world: 155
    Labor force field listing
    6,820 (2001)
    country comparison to the world: 218
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 29%
    industry: 15%
    services: 56% (1995)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    13.1% (2005)
    country comparison to the world: 167
    Population below poverty line field listing
    NA
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 86.9 million (2010)
    expenditures: 77.9 million (2010)
    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    29% (of GDP) (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    3% (of GDP) (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 13
    Fiscal year field listing
    1 April - 31 March
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    2.2% (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    Stock of narrow money field listing
    $38.99 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 191
    Stock of broad money field listing
    $148.2 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $170.9 million (31 December 2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    Current account balance field listing
    $26.67 million (2005)
    country comparison to the world: 59
    Exports field listing
    $3.125 million (2011 est.)
    $5.163 million (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 219
    Exports - commodities field listing
    fish; copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; pearls and pearl shells; clothing
    Imports field listing
    $109.3 million (2011 est.)
    $90.62 million (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
    Imports - commodities field listing
    foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods
    Debt - external field listing
    $141 million (1996 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 191
    Exchange rates field listing
    NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar -
    1.416 (2017 est.)
    1.4341 (2016 est.)
    1.4341 (2015 est.)
    1.441 (2014 est.)
    1.4279 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Cook Islands
  • Electricity - production field listing
    34 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 209
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    31.62 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 209
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 123
    Electricity - imports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 137
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    14,000 kW (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    79% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 71
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 165
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    21% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 36
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 108
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 114
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 119
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    600 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 209
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 146
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    611 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 119
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 87
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 110
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 124
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    88,810 Mt (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
  • Communications :: Cook Islands
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 7,800 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 75 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 199
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 11,000 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 105 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: Telecom Cook Islands offers international direct dialing, Internet, email, and fax; individual islands are connected by a combination of satellite earth stations, microwave systems, and VHF and HF radiotelephone (2017)
    domestic:  service is provided by small exchanges connected to subscribers by open-wire, cable, and fiber-optic cable; 75 per 100 fixed-line, 105 per 100 mobile-cellular (2017)
    international: country code - 682; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean); the topography of the South Pacific region has made internet connectivity a serious issue for many of the remote islands; submarine fibre-optic networks are expensive to build and maintain, with capital costs prohibitive for the smaller island communities; some countries have to rely solely on geostationary satellites; as a result, bandwidth is limited and broadband prices are expensive (2017)
    Broadcast media field listing
    1 privately owned TV station broadcasts from Rarotonga providing a mix of local news and overseas-sourced programs (2016)
    Internet country code field listing
    .ck
    Internet users field listing
    total: 5,160 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 54% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 213
  • Transportation :: Cook Islands
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 1 (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    E5 (2016)
    Airports field listing
    11 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 1 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)
    Airports - with unpaved runways field listing
    total: 10 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2013)
    under 914 m: 1 (2013)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 320 km (2003)
    paved: 33 km (2003)
    unpaved: 287 km (2003)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 218 (2017)
    by type: bulk carrier 27, container ship 5, general cargo 102, oil tanker 17, other 67 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 63
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Avatiu
  • Military and Security :: Cook Islands
  • Military branches field listing
    no regular military forces; National Police Department
    Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of New Zealand in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request
  • Transnational Issues :: Cook Islands
  • Disputes - international field listing
    none