Cook Islands

Country Summary

Introduction

Background

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.

Geography

Area

total: 236 sq km
land: 236 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Climate

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

Population

7,939 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Cook Island Maori (Polynesian) 81.3%, part Cook Island Maori 6.7%, other 11.9% (2011 est.)

Languages

English (official) 86.4%, Cook Islands Maori (Rarotongan) (official) 76.2%, other 8.3% (2011 est.)

Religions

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

-2.31% (2023 est.)

Government

Government type

parliamentary democracy

Capital

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 King's representative serves as a consultative body to the Parliament

Economy

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; Asian Development Bank aid recipient

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$266 million (2022 est.)
$257 million (2021 est.)
$287 million (2020 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$15,600 (2022 est.)
$15,100 (2021 est.)
$16,800 (2020 est.)

Agricultural products

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

Industries

fishing, fruit processing, tourism, clothing, handicrafts

Exports

$31.4 million (2021 est.)
$3.125 million (2011 est.)
$5.163 million (2010 est.)

Exports - partners

Japan 41%, France 18%, Thailand 16%, Greece 7%, China 6% (2021)

Exports - commodities

fish products, recreational boats, paintings, lobsters, tuna (2021)

Imports

$215 million (2021 est.)
$109.3 million (2011 est.)
$90.62 million (2010 est.)

Imports - partners

New Zealand 57%, Turkey 12%, Italy 11%, Israel 5%, Fiji 4% (2021)

Imports - commodities

motorboats, refined petroleum, integrated circuits, lumber, cars, edible preparations, flavored water, beer (2021)

Exchange rates

NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
1.416 (2017 est.)
1.4341 (2016 est.)
1.4341 (2015 est.)
1.441 (2014 est.)
1.4279 (2013 est.)


Page last updated: Tuesday, February 20, 2024