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CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Cook Islands
Flag of Cook Islands
Map of Cook Islands
Introduction Cook Islands
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 Cook Islands
Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates:
21 14 S, 159 46 W
Map references:
total: 240 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 240 sq km
Area - comparative:
1.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
120 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; moderated by trade winds
low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Te Manga 652 m
Natural resources:
Land use:
arable land: 17.39%
permanent crops: 13.04%
other: 69.57% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
typhoons (November to March)
Environment - current issues:
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
the northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls; the southern Cook Islands consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles where most of the populace lives
People Cook Islands
20,811 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: NA%
15-64 years: NA%
65 years and over: NA%
Population growth rate:
NA% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
NA births/1,000 population
Death rate:
NA deaths/1,000 population
Sex ratio:
Infant mortality rate:
NA deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA years
male: NA years
female: NA years
Total fertility rate:
NA children born/woman
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Cook Islander(s)
adjective: Cook Islander
Ethnic groups:
Polynesian (full blood) 81.3%, Polynesian and European 7.7%, Polynesian and non-European 7.7%, European 2.4%, other 0.9%
Christian (majority of populace are members of the Cook Islands Christian Church)
English (official), Maori
definition: NA
total population: 95%
male: NA%
female: NA%
Government Cook Islands
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
former: Harvey Islands
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
Government type:
self-governing parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions:
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:
Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)
4 August 1965
Legal system:
based on New Zealand law and English common law
NA years of age; universal adult
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Frederick GOODWIN (since NA); New Zealand High Commissioner Kurt MEYER (since NA), representative of New Zealand
elections: none; 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
head of government: Prime Minister Dr. Robert WOONTON (since 12 February 2002); Deputy Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey HENRY (since 12 February 2002)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament (25 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held NA June 1999 (next to be held by NA 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CIP 12, DAP 12, NAP 1
note: the House of Ariki (chiefs) advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence, but has no legislative powers
Judicial branch:
High Court
Political parties and leaders:
Cook Islands People's Party or CIP [Geoffrey HENRY]; Democratic Alliance Party or DAP [Terepai MAOATE]; New Alliance Party or NAP [Norman GEORGE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
ACP, AsDB, ESCAP (associate), FAO, ICAO, ICFTU, IFAD, IFRCS (associate), IOC, OPCW, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UNESCO, WHO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
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
Economy Cook Islands
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 provides the economic base with major exports made up of copra and citrus fruit. 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.
purchasing power parity - $105 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $5,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 17%
industry: 8%
services: 75% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.2% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
8,000 (1996)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 29%, industry 15%, services 56%
note: shortage of skilled labor (1995)
Unemployment rate:
13% (1996)
revenues: $28 million
expenditures: $27 million, including capital expenditures of $3.3 million (FY00/01 est. )
fruit processing, tourism, fishing
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
24 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
22.32 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry
$9.1 million (2000)
Exports - commodities:
copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing
Exports - partners:
Australia 34%, Japan 27%, New Zealand 25%, US 8% (2000)
$50.7 million (2000)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods
Imports - partners:
NZ 61%, Fiji 19%, US 9%, Australia 6%, Japan 2% (2000)
Debt - external:
$141 million (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$13.1 million (1995); note - New Zealand continues to furnish the greater part (1995)
New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
New Zealand dollars per US dollar - 2.3535 (January 2002), 2.3776 (2001), 2.1863 (2000), 1.8886 (1999), 1.8632 (1998), 1.5083 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Cook Islands
Telephones - main lines in use:
5,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
0 (1994)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: the 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: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 2, shortwave 0 (1998)
14,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (plus eight low-power repeaters) (1997)
4,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)
Internet users:
Transportation Cook Islands
0 km
total: 320 km (1992)
paved: NA
unpaved: NA
Ports and harbors:
Avarua, Avatiu
7 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2002)
Military Cook Islands
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request
Transnational Issues Cook Islands
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003