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  Introduction Back To Top

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 and government deficits are continuing problems.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

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

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
21 14 S, 159 46 W

Natural resources:

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Te Manga 652 m

low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south

Geography - note:
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

total: 236.7 sq km
land: 236.7 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about half way between Hawaii and New Zealand

120 km

Area - comparative:
1.3 times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Natural hazards:
typhoons (November to March)

Land use:
arable land: 16.67%
permanent crops: 8.33%
other: 75% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
3.1 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2001 census)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)

definition: NA
total population: 95%
male: NA%
female: NA%

Ethnic groups:
Cook Island Maori (Polynesian) 87.7%, part Cook Island Maori 5.8%, other 6.5% (2001 census)

People - note:
2001 census counted a resident population of 15,017

Median age:
total: 29.8 years
male: 29 years
female: 30.4 years (2001 census)

12,271 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
0.2% of GDP (2001)

Population growth rate:
NA (2008 est.)

English (official), Maori

Death rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 10 years
female: 10 years (2005)

Age structure:
0-14 years: (male 1,834/female 1,624)
15-64 years: (male 3,973/female 3,747)
65 years and over: (male 542/female 551)

Birth rate:
16.71 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

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)

noun: Cook Islander(s)
adjective: Cook Islander

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

National holiday:
Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)

NA years of age; universal (adult)

Government type:
self-governing parliamentary democracy

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Reform Conference (lobby for political system changes)
other: various groups lobbying for political change

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

Dependency status:
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

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
bicameral Parliament consisting of a Legislative Assembly (or lower house) (24 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and a House of Ariki (or upper house) made up of traditional leaders
note: the House of Ariki advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence but has no legislative powers
elections: last held 26 September 2006 (next to be held by 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - Demo 51.9%, CIP 45.5%, independent 2.7%; seats by party - Demo 15, CIP 8, independent 1

Legal system:
based on New Zealand law and English common law

Flag description:
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

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)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
former: Harvey Islands

Political parties and leaders:
Cook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]; Democratic Party or Demo [Dr. Terepai MAOATE]

name: Avarua
geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)

4 August 1965

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Sir Frederick GOODWIN (since 9 February 2001); New Zealand High Commissioner Tia BARRETT (since December 2008), representative of New Zealand
head of government: Prime Minister Jim MARURAI (since 14 December 2004); Deputy Prime Minister Terepai MAOATE (since 9 August 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
elections: the monarch is hereditary; the UK representative is appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner is 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

Administrative divisions:

Judicial branch:
High Court

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
27.9 million kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
$26.67 million (2005)

Debt - external:
$141 million (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate:
13.1% (2005)

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$9,100 (2005 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$183.2 million (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$183.2 million (2005 est.)

Exchange rates:
NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar - 1.4151 (2008 est.), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004)

GDP - real growth rate:
0.1% (2005 est.)

Labor force:
6,820 (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.1% (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 15.1%
industry: 9.6%
services: 75.3% (2004)

Oil - imports:
475.5 bbl/day (2005)

$5.222 million (2005)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
NZ dollar (NZD)

Economy - overview:
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 about one-third of the working population, provides the economic base with major exports made up 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.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods

fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Electricity - production:
30 million kWh (2006 est.)

$81.04 million (2005)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 29%
industry: 15%
services: 56% (1995)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
463.7 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing

Economic aid - recipient:
$13.1 million; note - New Zealand continues to furnish the greater part (1995)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $70.95 million
expenditures: $69.05 million (FY05/06)

Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
3,600 (2002)

Telephones - main lines in use:
6,200 (2002)

4,000 (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (2004)

14,000 (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
1,500 (2002)

Television broadcast stations:
1 (outer islands receive satellite broadcasts) (2004)

Telephone system:
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)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)

Internet hosts:
2,234 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 26
by type: cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 8, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 17 (Latvia 1, Lithuania 1, NZ 1, Nigeria 1, Norway 5, Sweden 8) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 (2007)

total: 320 km
paved: 33 km
unpaved: 287 km (2003)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 1 (2007)

9 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request

Military branches:
no regular military forces; National Police Department (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 157
female: 133 (2008 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

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