[Country map of Cook Islands]

Cook Islands

(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

Map references: Oceania

total area: 240 sq km
land area: 240 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than 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

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds

Terrain: low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south

Natural resources: negligible

Land use:
arable land: 4%
permanent crops: 22%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 74%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: typhoons (November to March)
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change; signed, but not ratified - Law of the Sea


Population: 19,343 (July 1995 est.)

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

Population growth rate: 1.13% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 23.05 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.2 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -6.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24.7 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.14 years
male: 69.2 years
female: 73.1 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.27 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Cook Islander(s)
adjective: Cook Islander

Ethnic divisions: Polynesian (full blood) 81.3%, Polynesian and European 7.7%, Polynesian and other 7.7%, European 2.4%, other 0.9%

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

Languages: English (official), Maori

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: 5,810
by occupation: agriculture 29%, government 27%, services 25%, industry 15%, other 4% (1981)


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands

Digraph: CW

Type: self-governing parliamentary government in 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

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: NA

Suffrage: universal adult at age NA

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Representative of the Queen Apenera SHORT (since NA); Representative of New Zealand Adrian SINCOCK (since NA)
head of government: Prime Minister Geoffrey HENRY (since 1 February 1989); Deputy Prime Minister Inatio AKARURU (since 1 February 1989)
cabinet: Cabinet; collectively responsible to the Parliament

Legislative branch: unicameral
Parliament: elections last held 24 March 1994 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (25 total) Cook Islands Party 20, Democratic Party 3, Alliance Party 2
note: the House of Arikis (chiefs) advises on traditional matters, but has no legislative powers

Judicial branch: High Court

Political parties and leaders: Cook Islands Party, Geoffrey HENRY; Democratic Party, Sir Thomas DAVIS; Cook Islands Labor Party, Rena JONASSEN; Cook Islands People's Party, Sadaraka SADARAKA; Alliance Party, Norman GEORGE

Member of: AsDB, ESCAP (associate), ICAO, ICFTU, IFAD, INTELSAT (nonsignatory user), IOC, SPARTECA, SPC, SPF, UNESCO, WHO

Diplomatic representation in US: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

US diplomatic representation: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

Flag: 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


Overview: Agriculture provides the economic base. The major export earners are fruit, copra, and clothing. Manufacturing activities are limited to a fruit-processing plant and several clothing factories. Economic development is hindered by the isolation of the islands from foreign markets and a lack of natural resources and good transportation links. A large trade deficit is annually made up for by remittances from emigrants and from foreign aid, largely from New Zealand. Current economic development plans call for exploiting the tourism potential and expanding the fishing industry.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $57 million (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: NA%

National product per capita: $3,000 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.2% (1990)

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $38 million
expenditures: $34.4 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1993 est.)

Exports: $3.4 million (f.o.b., 1990)
commodities: copra, fresh and canned fruit, clothing
partners: NZ 80%, Japan

Imports: $50 million (c.i.f., 1990)
commodities: foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber
partners: NZ 49%, Japan, Australia, US

External debt: $124 million (1994)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%; accounts for 5% of GDP

capacity: 14,000 kW
production: 21 million kWh
consumption per capita: 741 kWh (1993)

Industries: fruit processing, tourism

Agriculture: accounts for 12% of GDP, export crops - copra, citrus fruits, pineapples, tomatoes, bananas; subsistence crops - yams, taro

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $128 million; in 1994, Cook Islands received $4.3 million in budget support and $2.7 million in project aid from New Zealand, the country's largest source of aid

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

Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars (NZ$) per US$1 - 1.5601 (January 1995), 1.6844 (1994), 1.8495 (1993), 1.8584 (1992), 1.7265 (1991), 1.6750 (1990)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Railroads: 0 km

total: 187 km
paved: 35 km
unpaved: gravel 35 km; improved earth 84 km; unimproved earth 33 km (1980)

Ports: Avarua, Avatiu

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

total: 7
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 3
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3


Telephone system: 2,052 telephones
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
radios: 11,000

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: 17,000 (1989)

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand