Cook Islands

Country Summary

2022 population pyramid



Polynesians from Tahiti and Samoa first settled the islands around A.D. 900. They are named for British explorer Capt. James COOK who spotted one of the islands in 1773.  In 1901, the UK placed them in the New Zealand Colony and in 1915, organized the Cook Islands into one political entity.



total: 236 sq km

land: 236 sq km

water: 0 sq km


tropical oceanic; moderated by trade winds; a dry season from April to November and a more humid season from December to March

Natural resources

coconuts (copra)

People and Society


8,128 (2022 est.)

Ethnic groups

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% (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%, Church of Jesus Christ 4.4%, other 8%, none 5.6%, no response 2.2% (2011 est.)

Population growth rate

-2.39% (2022 est.)


Government type

parliamentary democracy


name: Avarua

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Sir Tom J. MARSTERS (since 9 August 2013); New Zealand High Commissioner Ms Tui DEWES (since October 2020)

head of government: Prime Minister Mark BROWN (since 1 October 2020)

Legislative branch

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


Economic overview

high-income self-governing New Zealand territorial economy; tourism-based activity but diversifying; severely curtailed by COVID-19 pandemic; copra and tropical fruit exporter; recently received economic recovery support from Asian Development Bank

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$299.9 million (2016 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$16,700 (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

vegetables, coconuts, roots/tubers, cassava, papayas, tomatoes, pork, fruit, sweet potatoes, mangoes/guavas


fishing, fruit processing, tourism, clothing, handicrafts


$3.125 million (2011 est.)

Exports - partners

Japan 37%, Thailand 21%, France 17% (2019)

Exports - commodities

fish products, recreational boats, precious metal scraps, fruit juice, chemical analysis instruments (2019)


$109.3 million (2011 est.)

Imports - partners

New Zealand 41%, China 21%, Italy 12%, Fiji 10% (2019)

Imports - commodities

ships, refined petroleum, recreational boats, cars, flavored water (2019)

Exchange rates

NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar -

Page last updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2022