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

Geographic Coordinates:

 21 14 S, 159 46 W


 Total: 236 sq km
Land: 236 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 1.3 times the size of Washington, DC

Land Boundaries:

 0 km


 120 km (Rank: 161)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


 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

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Te Manga 652 m

Natural Resources:


Land Use:

 Arable land: 16.67%
Permanent crops: 8.33%
Other: 75% (2005)

Natural Hazards:

 Typhoons (November to March)

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

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

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 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)


 English (official), Maori


 Protestant 69.6% (Cook Islands Christian Church 55.9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 7.9%, other Protestant 5.8%), Roman Catholic 16.8%, Mormon 3.8%, other 4.2%, unspecified 2.6%, none 3% (2001 census)


 11,124 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 25.1% (male 1,479/female 1,308)
15-64 years: 65% (male 3,737/female 3,499)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 538/female 563) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 32 years
Male: 31.3 years
Female: 32.7 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 -3.2% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 15.37 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 7.37 deaths/1,000 population NA (July 2011 est.)


 Urban population: 75% of total population (2008)
Rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.048 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 (2011 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 15.81 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 19.24 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 12.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 74.7 years
Male: 71.91 years
Female: 77.62 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.39 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 4.4% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 1.1764 physicians/1,000 population (2004)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 99% of population
Rural: 87% of population
Total: 95% of population
Urban: 1% of population
Rural: 13% of population
Total: 5% of population (2000)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 100% of population
Rural: 100% of population
Total: 100% of population (2008)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 95%
Male: NA
Female: NA

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 12 years
Male: 12 years
Female: 13 years (2010)

People - Note:

 2001 census counted a resident population of 15,017

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Cook Islands
Former: Harvey Islands

Government Type:

 Self-governing parliamentary democracy


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

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


 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)



Legal System:

 Common law similar to New Zealand common law

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration (New Zealand normally retains responsibility for external affairs); accepts ICCt jurisdiction


 18 years of age; universal

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 John CARTER (since 29 July 2011)

Head of government: Prime Minister Henry PUNA (since 30 November 2010)

Cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament

Elections: the monarchy is hereditary; the UK representative appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner 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

Legislative Branch:

 Bicameral Parliament consists of a House of Ariki, or upper house, made up of traditional leaders and a Legislative Assembly, or lower house, (24 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

Note: the House of Ariki advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence but has no legislative powers

Elections: last held on 17 November 2010 (next to be held by 2014)

Election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CIP 16, Demo 8

Judicial Branch:

 High Court

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Cook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]; Democratic Party or Demo [Dr. Terepai MAOATE]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Reform Conference (lobby for political system changes)
Other: various groups lobbying for political change

International Organization Participation:


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

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


 (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

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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.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $183.2 million (2005 est.)

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $183.2 million (2005 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 0.1% (2005 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $9,100 (2005 est.)

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 11.7%
Industry: 9.9%
Services: 78.5% (2008 est.)

Labor Force:

 6,820 (2001)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 29%
Industry: 15%
Services: 56% (1995)

Unemployment Rate:

 13.1% (2005)

Population Below Poverty Line:


Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%


 Revenues: $70.95 million
Expenditures: $69.05 million (FY05/06)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 38.7% of GDP (FY05/06)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 1% of GDP (FY05/06)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 2.1% (2005 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

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


 Fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 1% (2002)

Electricity - Production:

 31 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 29.76 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 1,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 464 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $26.67 million (2005)


 $5.222 million (2005)

Exports - Commodities:

 Copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing


 $81.04 million (2005)

Imports - Commodities:

 Foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods

Debt - External:

 $141 million (1996 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert New Zealand Dollar to Any Currency

NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar -
1.3874 (2010)
1.6002 (2009)
1.3811 (2007)
1.5408 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 7,200 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 7,800 (2010)

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)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (2004)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 1 (outer islands receive satellite broadcasts) (2004)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 2,521 (2010)

Internet Users:

 6,000 (2009)

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 10 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 5
Under 914 m: 2 (2010)


 Total: 320 km
Paved: 33 km
Unpaved: 287 km (2003)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 34
By type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 27, passenger 1, refrigerated cargo 5
Foreign-owned: 23 (Egypt 1, Germany 1, Latvia 1, Lithuania 2, former Netherlands Antilles 1, Norway 6, NZ 1, Russia 1, Sweden 3, Turkey 4, UK 2) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:


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Military Branches:

 No regular military forces; National Police Department (2009)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 2,198
Females age 16-49: 2,156 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 127
Female: 107 (2010 est.)

Military - Note:

 Defense is the responsibility of New Zealand in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request

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Last Updated: December 2011

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