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Cook Islands

(self-governing in free association with New Zealand)


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Introduction

Background: 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.

Geography

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

Area
  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: 9%
  permanent crops: 13%
  permanent pastures: 0%
  forests and woodland: 0%
  other: 78% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: typhoons (November to March)

Environment - current issues: NA

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

People

Population: 20,407 (July 2000 est.)

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

Population growth rate: 1.6% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 22.18 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.99 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24.7 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 71.14 years
  male: 69.2 years
  female: 73.1 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.14 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality
  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
  definition: NA
  total population: NA%
  male: NA%
  female: NA%

Government

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

Data code: CW

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, in consultation with the Cook Islands

Government type: self-governing parliamentary democracy

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 (1965)

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 (since 6 February 1952), represented by Apenera SHORT (since NA); New Zealand High Commissioner Jon JONESSEN (since NA January 1998), representative of New Zealand
  head of government: Prime Minister Dr. Terepai MAOATE (since 18 November 1999); Deputy Prime Minister Norman GEORGE (since NA)
  cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
  elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the UK representative is appointed by the monarch; 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 (Note: ten years of rule by the Cook Islands Party (CIP) came to an end 18 November 1999 with the resignation of Prime Minister Joe WILLIAMS; WILLIAMS had led a minority government since October 1999 when the New Alliance Party (NAP) left the government coalition and joined the main opposition Democratic Alliance Party (DAP); on 18 November 1999, DAP leader Dr. Terepai MAOATE was sworn in as 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)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CIP 12, DAP 12, NAP 1 (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 or CIP [Joe WILLIAMS]; Democratic Alliance Party or DAP [Terepai MAOATE]; New Alliance Party or NAP [leader NA]

International organization participation: AsDB, ESCAP (associate), FAO, ICAO, ICFTU, IFAD, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, OPCW, 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

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, 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 fruit-processing, clothing, and handicrafts. Trade deficits are made up for by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand. Efforts to exploit tourism potential, encourage offshore banking, and expand the mining and fishing industries have been partially successful in stimulating investment and growth.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $112 million (1998 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: NA%

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,600 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 18%
  industry: 9%
  services: 73% (1995)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share
  lowest 10%: NA%
  highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.6% (1994 est.)

Labor force: 6,601 (1993)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 29%, industry 15%, services 56% (1995)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget
  revenues: $NA
  expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Industries: fruit processing, tourism

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 15 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 100%
  hydro: 0%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 14 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

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

Exports: $4.2 million (f.o.b., 1994 est.)

Exports - commodities: copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing

Exports - partners: NZ 80%, Japan, Hong Kong (1993)

Imports: $85 million (c.i.f., 1994)

Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods

Imports - partners: NZ 49%, Italy, Australia (1993)

Debt - external: $141 million (1996 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $13.1 million (1995); note - New Zealand furnishes the greater part

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

Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars (NZ$) per US$1 - 1.9451 (January 2000), 1.8886 (1999), 1.8632 (1998), 1.5083 (1997), 1.4543 (1996), 1.5235 (1995)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 4,180 (1994)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1994)

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)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (1999)

Transportation

Railways: 0 km

Highways
  total: 187 km
  paved: 35 km
  unpaved: 152 km (1980 est.)

Ports and harbors: Avarua, Avatiu

Merchant marine
  total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 2,310 GRT/2,181 DWT
  ships by type: cargo 1 (1999 est.)

Airports: 7 (1999 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 1
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (1999 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 6
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
  914 to 1,523 m: 3 (1999 est.)

Military

Military - note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none

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Site Version 1.75 - Last updated December 20, 2006

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