About Cook Islands [ Territory ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Cook Islands; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this territory.


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


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


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


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

Geo Notes

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

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
former: Harvey Islands

Capital City

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

Administrative Divisions


Natuaral Hazards

Typhoons (November to March)

Environmental Issues


Life Expectancy

total population: 74.47 years
male: 71.69 years
female: 77.38 years (2010 est.)

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.046 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

English (official), Maori

Religions Practiced

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)

Legal System

Based on New Zealand law and English common law

National Holiday

Constitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)

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)

Broadcast Media

1 privately-owned TV station broadcasts from Rarotonga providing a mix of local news and overseas-sourced programs; a satellite program package is available; 6 radio stations broadcast with 1 reportedly reaching all of the islands (2009)


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.

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 more than one-quarter 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.

National Anthem

name: "Te Atua Mou E" (To God Almighty)
lyrics/music: Tepaeru Te RITO/Thomas DAVIS
note: adopted 1982; as prime minister, Sir Thomas DAVIS composed the anthem; his wife, a tribal chief, wrote the lyrics

Cook Islands location map

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

Cook Islands flag

11,488 (July 2010 est.)


noun: Cook Islander(s)
adjective: Cook Islander

Ethnic Groups

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



Dependency Of

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

Independence Date

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)

Government Type

Self-governing parliamentary democracy

Voting Rights

18 years of age; universal (adult)

Internet Users

5,000 (2008)

Internet Hosts

2,521 (2010)

Internet Country Code


Number Airports

10 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


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

Ports & Terminals


National Budget

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

Account Balance

$26.67 million (2005)

Exchange Rates

NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar - 1.6204 (2009), 1.4151 (2008), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005)

Inflation Rate

2.1% (2005 est.)

Main Industries

Fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts

Agricultural Products

Copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry

Labor Force

6,820 (2001)

Main Occupations

agriculture: 29%
industry: 15%
services: 56% (1995)

Unemployment Rate

13.1% (2005)

GDP (USD Parity)

$183.2 million (2005 est.)

GDP Per Capita

$9,100 (2005 est.)

Family Income Percent

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Below Poverty