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Countries > Cook Islands Cook Islands Flag

Languages   2 languages are spoken in Cook Islands. We have 5 products available for those languages.

Capital: (New Zeeland Territory)
Population: 20,000
Cook Islands Map

(free association with New Zealand)


Location: 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: Oceania

total: 240 sq km
land: 240 sq km
water: 0 sq km

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

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 120 km

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

Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds

Terrain: 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: NEGL

Land use:
arable land :17%
permanent crops: 13%
other : 70% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: typhoons (November to March)

Environment - current issues: NA

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: NA


Population: 20,811 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA

Population growth rate: 1.08% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 22.7 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 5.2 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: -6.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: NA male(s)/female
under 15 years: NA male(s)/female
15-64 years: NA male(s)/female
65 years and over: NA male(s)/female
total population: NA male(s)/female

Infant mortality rate: 24.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.14 years
male: 69.2 years
female: 73.1 years (1997 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.22 children born/woman (1997 est.)

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%

Religions: Christian (majority of populace are members of the Cook Islands Christian Church)

Languages: English (official), Maori

Literacy: NA


Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form : Cook Islands

Data code: CW

Dependency status: free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands is fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs, in consultation with the Cook Islands

Government type: self-governing parliamentary democracy

National capital: Avarua

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: 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, 4 August

Constitution: 4 August 1965

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

Suffrage: NA years of age; universal adult

Executive branch:
chief of state : Queen ELIZABETH II of the UK (since 6 February 1952), represented by Frederick GOODWIN (since NA); New Zealand High Commissioner Kurt MEYER (since NA), representative of New Zealand
note: on 12 February 2002, Prime Minister Terepai MAOATE was ousted following a vote of no-confidence; a four-party coalition is the third government since 1999
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
elections : none; the queen is a hereditary monarch; the queen's representative is appointed by the queen; the New Zealand high commissioner is appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the party that wins the most seats usually becomes prime minister

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)
note: the House of Ariki (chiefs) advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence, but has no legislative powers
election results : percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CIP 12, DAP 12, NAP 1

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]

International organization participation: AsDB, ESCAP (associate), FAO, ICAO, ICFTU, IFAD, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, 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 - overview: Like other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign 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 a fruit-processing plant and several clothing factories. Trade deficits are made up for by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, largely from New Zealand. In 1996, the government declared bankruptcy, citing a $120 million public debt. Efforts to exploit tourism potential and expanding the mining and fishing industries have not been enough to adequately deal with the financial crisis. In an effort to stem further erosion of the tenuous economic situation, the government slashed public service salaries by 50%, condensed the number of government ministries from 52 to 22, reduced the number of civil servants by more than half, began selling government assets, and closed all overseas diplomatic posts except for the one in New Zealand.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $105 million (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: NA%

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,000 (2001 est.) est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 17%
industry: 7.8%
services: 75.2% (2000 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 3.2% (2000 est.)

Labor force:
total: 8,000 (1996)
by occupation: 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.)

Industries: fruit processing, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - capacity: 7,500 kW (1990)

Electricity - production: 24 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 22.32 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, yams, taro, coffee

total value: $9.1 million (f.o.b., 2000)
commodities: copra, fresh and canned citrus fruit, clothing, coffee, fish
partners: Australia 34%, Japan 27%, New Zealand 25%, US 8% (2000)

total value : $50.7 million (c.i.f., 2000)
commodities: foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber
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

Currency: 1 New Zealand dollar (NZ$) = 100 cents

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


Telephones:5,000 (1997)

Telephone system:
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)

Radios: 14,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus eight low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 4,000 (1997)


Railways: 0 km

total:320 km (1992)
paved: NA
unpaved: NA

Ports and harbors: Avarua, Avatiu

Merchant marine:
total : 1 cargo ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,464 GRT/2,181 DWT (1996 est.)

Airports: 7 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total : 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2001)


Military - note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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