Worldwide Locations

Worldwide Locations

Cook Islands

Located in between the American Samoa in the west and the French Polynesia in the east, the Cook Islands consist of 15 volcanic islands and coral atolls.  The 91 square miles of land mass is scattered over an exclusive economic zone of 770,000 square miles in the South Pacific Ocean.

Named after Captain Cook who first sighted them in 1773, the islands became a British protectorate in 1888, although autonomous status was given to the local tribes consisting of mixed Polynesian ancestry.  New Zealand took over the administrative control in 1900.  In 1965 the island residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand.  Local governments still consult a council of hereditary leaders known as the House of Ariki on issues ranging from culture, custom and land ownership.

There are more Cook Islanders living in New Zealand than on the island itself.  Their New Zealand citizenship also grants them the right to live in Australia.  While there are local government and business efforts to bring back the Islanders to the island itself, the population – especially of skilled workers -- continues to decline.

The capital city Avarua is located on the island of Rarotonga – home to the largest population and an international airport.

With a large number of beaches and volcanic mountains, the Cook Islands’ main source of income is tourism.  Nearly 90,000 tourists traveled to the Cook Islands in 2006.

Due to their location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the islands are often subject to harsh tropical storms.  In 1997 Hurricane Martin has a devastating impact on the islands in the north, and also caused losses to the black pearl industry.

Sources: BBC, International Crisis Group, CIA World Factbook.
    Full Name:  Cook Islands
    Form of Government:  Self-governing parliamentary democracy 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
   Year of Independence:  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)
   Population:  21923
   Capital:  Avarua, on Rarotonga Island
   Largest City:  Avarua, on Rarotonga Island
   Major Religion:  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)
   Area:  237 sq km (91 sq miles)
   Major Languages:  English (official), Maori
   Life Expectancy:  n/a
   Monetary Unit:  1 New Zealand dollar ($NZ) = 100 cents
   Main Exports:  Black pearls, copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee, fish, pearls and pearl shells; clothing
   GDP - Per Capita (PPP):  $9,100 (2005 est.)
   Internet Domain:  .ck
   International Dialing Code:  +682