Cook Islands

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Cook Islands,

island group (2015 est. pop. 17,000), 90 sq mi (234 sq km), S Pacific, SE of Samoa; a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. It consists of 15 small islands and is comprised of two main groups, the Southern (or Lower) Cook islands (RarotongaRarotonga
, formerly Goodenough's Island,
volcanic island (2006 pop. 15,153), 26 sq mi (67 sq km), South Pacific, capital of the Cook Islands. The most southwesterly of the group, it is also the largest, most important, and by far the most populous.
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, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, Mauke, Mitiaro, and Manuae and Te-Au-o-tu) and the Northern Cook islands (Nassau, Palmerston, Penrhyn, ManihikiManihiki
, atoll, c.2 sq mi (5.2 sq km), South Pacific, in the Cook Islands. It comprises 12 islets; the whole group that includes Manihiki and Penrhyn is also often designated Manihiki. Manihiki was discovered in 1822 by Americans and became a British protectorate in 1889.
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, Rakahanga, Pukapuka, and Suwarrow). The islands were formerly called the Hervey Islands. AvaruaAvarua,
town (est. pop. 2,600), capital, largest town, and main port of the Cook Islands, located on the N coast of Rarotonga. A trading center for locally produced fruit and fish, it is also a tourist hub.
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, on Rarotonga, is the capital and administrative center of the group. In 2017 the islands' entire offshore exclusive economic zone, some 734,000 sq mi (1.9 million sq km), became a marine park. The Cook Islanders are Maoris, a Polynesian people, and are largely Christians. English is the official language and Maori is also spoken.


Agriculture employs about one third of the people. Fruits and vegetables are grown, and pigs and poultry are raised. Food processing, tourism, and fishing are the major industries. Black pearls, copra, papayas, citrus fruits and juices, coffee, fish, clothing, and handicrafts are the principal exports. Foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, and capital goods are imported. Beginning in the 1980s the islands also became a popular tax haven and offshore banking center, but in 2003 the government moved to increase regulation of offshore banks as a result of international pressure. Large numbers of workers emigrate to New Zealand and their remittances are also an important source of income. Government spending is important to the economy, and more than 60% of the labor force work in the public sector. The Maoris generally work their own land.


The Cook Islands are governed under the constitution of 1965. The monarch of Great Britain and Northern Island is the head of state and appoints a British representative. The prime minister heads the government. There is a bicameral parliament. Members of the 25-seat Legislative Assembly are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. The 15-member House of Ariki (hereditary chiefs) is a purely consultative body that advises on traditional matters. New Zealand, represented by a high commissioner, is responsible for foreign affairs and defense in consultation with the Cook Islands government.


The southern islands were probably occupied by the Polynesians c.1,500 years ago. Spaniards visited the islands in the late 16th and early 17th cent. Capt. James CookCook, James,
1728–79, English explorer and navigator. The son of a Yorkshire agricultural laborer, he had little formal education. After an apprenticeship to a firm of shipowners at Whitby, he joined (1755) the royal navy and surveyed the St.
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 sighted some of the islands in 1773; others remained unknown to European explorers until the 1820s. The London Missionary Society was a powerful influence in the southern islands during the 19th cent. The islands were proclaimed a British protectorate in 1888 and were annexed by New Zealand in 1901. The Cook Islands achieved internal self-government in 1965 and are free to unilaterally declare their complete independence. An economic crisis in the mid-1990s led to outmigration and a significant drop in the islands population.

Cook Islands


an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, located in Polynesia. Administratively under New Zealand sovereignty. The 15 islands subdivide into the Northern and Lower Cook groups, situated between 8° and 23°S lat. Area, 240 sq km.

The most important and populated islands of the Lower group are Rarotonga (67 sq km) and Mangaia (52 sq km). The Lower islands are primarily volcanic (maximum elevation, 643 m on Rarotonga). The Northern islands are coral atolls. The climate is tropical trade wind, mild and moist. The difference in seasonal temperatures (7° C) on Rarotonga is one of the lowest on earth. Population, more than 20,000 (1968): primarily Polynesian. There is fishing here, as well as the gathering of copra, pearls, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shells, and arrowroot. Bananas, oranges, and pineapples are grown.

The administrative center is Avarua on Rarotonga. The Cook Islands were discovered in 1773–74 by the British seafarer J. Cook; the Suvorov Atoll was discovered by the Russian seafarer M. P. Lazarev in 1814.

References in periodicals archive ?
In the Cook Islands the creation and performance of dances and songs, and doing this well, not only demonstrates skill, that is, how gifted one is, but is also about sharing this gift with others, whether locals or tourists.
The Missionaries of the London Missionary Society had an enormous impact on Cook Islands life, spiritually, economically, politically and linguistically.
A still lower 2 percent backing was established for uncirculated and proof coins and coin sets and for uncut notes and souvenir sets (Cook Islands Government 1989).
The Cook Islands was placed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCT) since 2000.
A pre-arranged itinerary had been organised with the generous assistance of the Chief Librarian of the Cook Islands and, as English is commonly spoken, there were no language difficulties.
Some things in life are worth making a bit of effort for - and a holiday in the Cook Islands is definitely one of them.
Welcome to the Cook Islands, 15 small atolls in the South Pacific spread over an area the size of India with a population of just 14,000, where Maori traditions and international programs seamlessly protect and nurture the environment.
In 1982 research began into creating a cultured pearl industry in the Cook Islands similar to that of French Polynesia.
Roundtrip voyages from Papeete, Tahiti, explore French Polynesia's Society Islands and Cook Islands; one-way cruises between Tahiti and Fiji visit Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Wales were unimpressive against the Cook Islands up to half-time on Sunday, when they were being held to 6-6.
SCOTT Gibbs reckons Wales will turn up the heat on the Cook Islands today but has told Iestyn Harris and Kieron Cunningham to put plans to switch codes on the back-burner.