Cook Islands

Cook Islands (Maori Kūki 'Āirani) is an archipelago and self-governing self-governing state entity in free association with New Zealand in the South Pacific in Polynesia. It borders on the waters of Kiribati in the north, French Polynesia in the east, Niue, American Samoa, Tokelau in the west and neutral Pacific waters in the south. Cook Islands are part of the Kingdom of New Zealand. The territory includes 15 islands, 3 of which are uninhabited: 7 islands in the Northern group and 8 in the South. Land area - 236.7 km². The population is 14 974 people (2011). The capital is the city of Avarua on the island of Rarotonga. In 1888, the islands became a protectorate of the British Empire, and in 1901 were transferred to the administration of New Zealand. In 1965, the Cook Islands became a self-governing state entity in partnership with New Zealand. Cook Islands is a member of the South Pacific Commission and the Pacific Islands Forum. Most countries of the world do not recognize the Cook Islands as a subject of international law, but 48 states and the European Union maintain diplomatic relations with them.

The archipelago got its modern name only in the 19th century and was named by the Russian navigator Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern in honor of the English traveler James Cook. Cook himself, who visited the islands of the Southern Group in 1773-1775, named them Hervey Islands.



According to radiocarbon analysis, the Cook Islands from the Southern Group were originally settled by Polynesians no later than 500 AD. According to comparative linguistics, the islands of the Southern Group were settled from the islands of the Society, which, in turn, were settled from the Marquesas. At the same time, the separation of the Pramarkiz and Prataitian languages ​​occurred around 900 AD. The islands of the Northern group (except for Pukapuk, inhabited probably from Samoa) were settled either from the islands of the Southern group, or directly from the islands of the Society.

The Spanish mariners Alvaro de Mendagna and Pedro Fernandez Quiros became the first Europeans to reach the islands in the late XVI-XVII centuries. The first to be discovered was the island of Pucapuca, named Mendanya in 1595 by the island of San Bernardo. Already in the middle of the XVII century the islands were explored by English sailors. In 1773-1774 and in 1777, the famous English traveler James Cook discovered the islands of Manuae, Palmerston, Mangaia and Atiu. The islands of the Southern Group discovered by him were named the navigator of the island of Hervey. The archipelago got its modern name only at the beginning of the 19th century, when the Russian explorer Ivan Fedorovich Kruzenshtern studied the islands.

In the early 1820s, the first missionaries from the London Missionary Society landed on the Cook Islands (John Williams became the first). Christianity spread very quickly, and soon the church gained control of the political and administrative life of the islands. The appearance of missionaries contributed to the establishment of peace on the archipelago (before, local tribes were constantly at war). However, there were negative consequences: due to diseases brought to the Cook Islands by Europeans, a sharp decrease in the number of local population was noted.

In 1843, after France seized the island of Tahiti, the Ariks (local leaders) of the Cook Islands turned to the British Empire for patronage. However, the British protectorate over Rarotonga (later on all the islands of the South and North groups) was announced only in 1888. New Zealand was of great interest to the archipelago, but the majority of the Cook Maori, who wished to remain under the tutelage of the British Empire, opposed the idea of ​​a “colony colony” (at that time New Zealand was a colony of Britain). But already in 1901, the management of the islands was transferred to New Zealand. In 1960, as a result of the anti-colonial movement of the Cook Islands, one of the first among the Pacific nations acquired internal self-government. From August 4, 1965, the Cook Islands became a self-governing state entity in partnership with New Zealand.

The following decades were marked by improvements in the economic and social spheres, the powers of the local government expanded, and therefore the independence of the Cook Islands increased (for example, in the field of foreign policy, the right to unilateral exit from free association with New Zealand). In the mid-1990s, the country experienced a major financial crisis. As a result, the well-being of local residents worsened, emigration to New Zealand increased, and there was a frequent change of governments and prime ministers.



General geography
The State of the Cook Islands consists of 15 islands and atolls located in the Pacific Ocean in Polynesia between the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn on an area of ​​2.2 million km², between Tonga in the west and the Society Islands in the east. The total land area is 236.7 km². The distance from the northernmost (Penrhyn or Tongareva Atoll) to the southernmost island (Mangaia Island) is about 1,400 km.



The Cook Islands represent five types of island systems found in the Pacific Ocean.

The islands of the Northern Group are older than the islands of the Southern Group and are low-lying atolls without underground caves and with no traces of karst formation. All atolls, with the exception of Tongarewa (Penrhyn), originated on the underwater plateau of Manihiki, located at a depth of 3000 m from the ocean surface.

The islands of the Southern Group make up about 90% of the country's land area and are a continuation of the volcanic chain stretching in the southern part of the Pacific Plate from the Tubuai Islands (French Polynesia). The largest island, Rarotonga, is a volcanic island, whose height reaches 653 m. The four islands of the Southern Group (Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro) have a complex geological structure and relief with traces of karst formation and branched cave systems. Their formation took place about 10 million years ago as a result of the surrounding of a volcanic formation by a coral reef. Rarotonga, on the other hand, appeared only 2 million years ago as a result of high volcanic activity in the past in this part of the Pacific Ocean.

One of the geological features of the islands of the Northern Group is the presence of coastal rocks, the formation of which occurred approximately at a level of 1 m below the earth's surface. As a result of chemical reactions between water and calcium carbonate, lime was formed, which serves as a cementing agent between shells and corals of coastal rocks. These geological formations are also a natural defense of natural underground fresh water reservoirs.

Minerals, the development of which could be carried out on an industrial scale, are absent on the surface and in the depths of the islands of the Cook Archipelago. However, in the late 1970s, ocean floor surveys were carried out in the Cook Islands' Exclusive Coastal Economic Zone. As a result, at a depth of approximately 5,000 m, one of the largest concentrations of iron-manganese nodules, as well as cobalt (approximately 7.5 million tons), was discovered in the Pacific Ocean. However, no development is currently underway.



One of the geological features of the islands of the Northern Group is the presence of coastal rocks, the formation of which occurred approximately at a level of 1 m below the earth's surface. As a result of chemical reactions between water and calcium carbonate, lime was formed, which serves as a cementing agent between shells and corals of coastal rocks. These geological formations are also a natural defense of natural underground fresh water reservoirs.

Minerals, the development of which could be carried out on an industrial scale, are absent on the surface and in the depths of the islands of the Cook Archipelago. However, in the late 1970s, ocean floor surveys were carried out in the Cook Islands' Exclusive Coastal Economic Zone. As a result, at a depth of approximately 5,000 m, one of the largest concentrations of iron-manganese nodules, as well as cobalt (approximately 7.5 million tons), was discovered in the Pacific Ocean. However, no development is currently underway.



The soils of the islands of the Northern Group of the Cook Archipelago have a composition typical of other atolls in Oceania: coral fragments and a low content of organic matter that accumulate in the upper layers. These soils are infertile, highly porous and suitable only for coconut palms, pandanus and some other tropical plant species. In the swampy areas, taro grown by local residents grows.

The soils of the islands of the Southern Group of the Cook Archipelago are mainly of volcanic origin, and therefore more fertile, and therefore more suitable for agricultural use. With the exception of Rarotonga and Aitutaki, most of the islands of the Southern Group are occupied by macatea with a very rugged relief. Due to the fact that macatea is made up of coral limestone, the soils in this place have a high pH level. The lowlands of the islands are dominated by fertile alluvial soils. Some hinterland areas of Atiu and Mangaia are subject to severe soil erosion (these are the consequences of the cultivation of pineapple plantations). Much of the island of Rarotonga is covered with eroded soil.

On the islands of the Northern Group, due to their small area, low altitude, and soil porosity, there are no rivers. Instead, water percolates through the ground to form a lens of slightly brackish water. However, this source of water is quickly depleted, so the locals mainly rely on rainwater collected in special tanks. There are wells on the islands of Pukapuka, Nassau, Rakahanga.

The volcanic islands of the Southern Group have sources of good quality fresh water. For example, the inhabitants of Rarotonga and Mangaia obtain the water they need from springs and small streams of water flowing in the valleys of the islands, while other islands of the group have large groundwater reserves.


Flora and fauna

The vegetation of the Cook Islands is not much different from the vegetation of other Pacific atolls. Only on the islands of the Southern Group is the vegetation cover more diverse, which is largely due to the peculiarities of the geological structure and the volcanic origin of these islands. Several zones of certain vegetation can be distinguished on them: macatea flora, coastal flora, marshland flora, fern communities, forests.

The plant communities of Makatea play a very important role in the lives of the local people. Before the appearance of goats and pigs on the islands, the Macatea areas remained practically untouched by man. A large number of plants still grow on them, many of which are used for medical purposes, for housing, canoes. The coastal flora of islands such as Rarotonga and Aitutaki is subject to significant anthropogenic impact due to the development of tourism. In addition to traditional plants, a large number of plants introduced by humans, such as mimosa, can be found on the coast. In the wetlands of the Cook Islands, typical plants grow, and taro is cultivated by the locals. On the islands of Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke and Rarotonga, ferns are ubiquitous, protecting a thin layer of fertile soil from being washed away. Humid jungles occupy up to 64% of the island of Rarotonga, nephelogiles (tropical evergreen forests on the slopes of mountains at an altitude of 400 m in the fog condensation zone), in which many endemic plants grow, up to 3% of the island.

Typical plants for the islands of volcanic origin are casuarina, hibiscus, frangipani and bougainvillea introduced by Europeans. The sparse vegetation of the atolls, where the soils are very poor and the only source of fresh water is rain, is represented by pandanus. Coconut trees grow everywhere.

Terrestrial mammals are represented mainly by introduced species: dogs, pigs and cats. The Tongan flying fox (lat. Pteropus tonganus) lives on the islands of Rarotonga and Mangaia, small rats (lat. Rattus exulans) and palm thieves (lat. Birgus latro) are widespread.

The avifauna of the Cook Islands is very rich. On the islands of the Northern Group, mostly covered with coconut palms, there is only one species of land bird - the Pacific fruit-eating pigeon (lat. Ducula pacifica), which feeds on the fruits of the magnificent guettard (lat. Guettarda speciosa). However, islands such as Suvorov and Takutea are places of large bird colonies where many species of seabirds nest: the sooty tern (lat. Sterna fuscata), lesser frigatebird (lat. Fregata ariel), red-footed booby (lat. Sula sula), red-tailed phaeton (lat. Phaethon rubricauda), large frigatebird (lat. Fregata minor), brown booby (lat. Sula leucogaster), blue-faced booby (lat. Sula dactylatra), Tahitian curlew (lat. Numenius tahitiensis). The islands of the Southern Group are home to 11 species of indigenous non-migratory land bird species. These include 4 species of endemic birds living within only one island (Rarotonga pomarea, Rarotonga aplonis, lat. Aerodramus sawtelli, lat. Todiramhus ruficollaris), two species of endemic birds nesting on two islands (Rarotonga spotted pigeon, Cook's warbler and 5 species of non-endemic birds.



Residents of the Cook Islands, under their self-governing statute in free association with New Zealand, are New Zealand citizens. In recent years, there has been a significant outflow of the indigenous population to this country. The decline in the population of the Cook Islands occurs mainly during periods of economic crisis, when the population goes to New Zealand in search of work, the opposite is true during times of economic growth. Thus, a significant decline in the population of the Cook Islands was observed between 1971 and 1991. An important demographic indicator is also internal migration. For example, in 1991, there was an increase in the population of Manihiki by more than 30%, while the islands of Mangaia and Palmerston experienced a decrease by more than 20%. Such trends are explained by the increase in the pearl catch on the island of Manihiki and the decrease in economic activity on the island of Mangaia.

According to the 2016 census, the population of the Cook Islands was 17,459, of which 13,044 lived on the island of Rarotonga with a total area of ​​67.1 km². The capital city of Avarua had a population of 6,935 in 2011. 93.7% of the population (16,360 people) live on the islands of the Southern Group, almost three-quarters on Rarotonga. Due to the limited number of jobs, many islanders live abroad, mainly in New Zealand.

Population density - 63.26 people. per km². The islands of Manuae, Suvorov and Takutea are uninhabited. The most sparsely populated island in 2016 was Nassau (78 people).

In 2016, men accounted for 49.2% (8590 people), women - 50.8% (8869 people). The share of the urban population in 2001 was 67.6%, rural - 32.4%.

The birth rate in the Cook Islands in 2020 was 13.3 per 1,000 inhabitants, with a natural population increase of 2.59%. The share of children under 14 years old in 2020 was 19.93%, of the adult population from 15 to 64 years old - 66.7%, over 65 years old - 13.37%. The average life expectancy of the population in 2020 was 77 years.


Ethnic composition

The majority of the population of the Cook Islands are representatives of the Maori people of the Cook Islands, who are close to the indigenous population of French Polynesia and New Zealand. Despite the significant influence of Western culture (various religious teachings, lifestyle), the traditional culture of the Cook Islands has not disappeared and continues to develop.

87.7% of the population is indigenous - the Maori of the Cook Islands. The proportion of the population of foreign origin and their descendants is low - 6.5%. The rest of the population are people from mixed marriages of Maori and foreigners.

The inhabitants of most of the islands are considered as representatives of one ethnic group - the Maori of the Cook Islands. Within them, groups are distinguished that correspond to individual islands: the Rarotongans, the Mangais, the Tongarevans, and the Manihiki-Rakahanganans. Only the population of the island of Pukapuka - the Pukapukans - speaks a different language and is considered a separate Polynesian people. A special ethnic community is represented by the inhabitants of Palmerston Atoll and people from it, who are many in Rarotonga and New Zealand. They are descendants of the English sailor William Masters and his three Polynesian wives.



The inhabitants of most Cook Islands speak Polynesian languages, most notably Cook (Cook Island Maori or Cook Maori), which became the official language in 2003. It is represented by two groups of dialects - Rakahanga-Manihiki and Rarotonga (or Rarotonga-Mangai), which are often considered separate languages.

The inhabitants of Tongareva (Penryn) Atoll speak a closely related language, Tongareva (Penryn). The people of Pukapuka and Nassau speak a distantly related language, Pukapuka.

The second state language is English. It is the native language of the people of Palmerston Atoll.



The dominant religion in the Cook Islands is Christianity, spread in the archipelago by the missionaries of the London Missionary Society, who first landed on it (namely, on the island of Aitutaki) in 1821. With the spread of Christianity in the Cook Islands, the practice of cannibalism, infanticide, and idol worship was stopped. The missionaries contributed to the spread of literacy among the local population, the basic principles of money management, and created a written form of the Kuk language. Agriculture received an impetus to development: there was a transition from an unproductive subsistence economy to a plantation economy. The traditional tribal system led by hereditary chiefs was gradually replaced by a centralized form of government headed by elected politicians, and extended families (that is, families that included, in addition to parents and children, also immediate relatives) by nuclear families (that is, families that included the head of the family, his wife and children who had not yet married), who settled on the coast of the islands, and not in the central part, as was the case before (an exception to this is the island of Atiu, where the opposite situation was observed).

However, the missionaries also became a source of trouble. Together with the Europeans, a number of infectious diseases were brought to the islands, against which the locals had no immunity. As a result of epidemics, a significant part of the islanders died.

In the modern society of the Cook Islands, the majority of residents (49.1%) are followers of the Christian Church of the Cook Islands (Protestants). About 17% are Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists 7.9%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.2% (555 people attended the Memorial in 2012 - about 3.5% of the population).


Political structure

The Cook Islands is a self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand. This implies the independence of the Islands in resolving the internal issues of the territory (in particular, the government of the Cook Islands has executive power, the legislative power is the Parliament of the Cook Islands, and not the Parliament of New Zealand), being part of the Kingdom of New Zealand, headed by the monarch of New Zealand, Queen Elizabeth II, providing residents territory of New Zealand citizenship. However, Cook Islanders cannot vote in New Zealand elections and receive welfare benefits until and unless they become permanent residents of New Zealand. Foreign policy and defense remain the prerogative of the New Zealand government.

The constitution, adopted on 4 August 1965, establishes a monarchical form of government with a Westminster parliamentary system similar to that in New Zealand. However, democratic principles in the country are closely intertwined with local traditions. For example, electoral districts are formed on the basis of traditional land surveys and boundaries stretching from the interior of the islands to the ocean.



The supreme body of legislative power is a unicameral parliament, consisting of 24 deputies (before 2003 - 25 deputies), elected by universal secret ballot. Each deputy represents a separate district, in some cases an entire island. The term of office of members of parliament is 5 years.

At the first session of the Parliament, the deputies elect the Speaker of the Parliament and his deputy.


Executive branch

According to the Constitution of the Cook Islands, the head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, who is represented in the Islands by the Queen's Representative (formerly the High Commissioner), appointed by her for a period of three years with the right of reappointment. The Queen's Representative acts on the advice of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister or the appropriate minister. If the Cabinet, the Prime Minister or the relevant Minister makes any proposal to the Queen's Representative and if the Queen's Representative does not reject it within 14 days of the date of the proposal, the proposal shall be considered accepted. The representative of the queen gives the acts of parliament the force of law, receives credentials.

The Cabinet of Ministers, consisting of the presiding Prime Minister and at least 6 and not more than 8 ministers, is appointed from members of parliament (one minister is appointed from outside the number of members of parliament). The Cabinet of Ministers is the executive body responsible to Parliament. The Prime Minister of the country is appointed by the representative of the British Queen from among the members of Parliament. The remaining ministers are also appointed by the Queen's representative from among the members of Parliament, but on the proposal of the Prime Minister.


Judicial branch

The islands have a common law - a legal system in which judicial precedent is recognized as the source of law. The supreme law of the country is the Constitution of the Cook Islands. The judiciary is represented by the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Regional Court and the Privy Council.

The High Court of the Cook Islands is composed of a Chief Justice and Justices of the Peace appointed by the Queen's Representative on the recommendation of the Executive Council. The High Court is divided into a civil division, a criminal division, and a land division. Only citizens of the Cook Islands who have served as barristers in New Zealand or another Commonwealth country for at least 7 years can become Judges of the High Court of the Cook Islands.

The Court of Appeal is composed of three judges, also appointed by the Queen's representative. The Privy Council considers claims against decisions of the Court of Appeal.



Voting rights are granted to citizens of the Cook Islands, citizens of New Zealand, persons who have the status of a permanent resident of the Cook Islands, persons who have ever lived in the country for at least 12 months. However, if a person has been outside the Cook Islands for 3 or more months, he loses the right to vote in parliamentary elections. The right to vote is granted again if the person has been in the Cook Islands for 3 months or more.

Each constituency is represented by one deputy in the country's parliament. Thus, the island of Rarotonga, together with Palmerston, is represented in parliament by 10 deputies, Aitutaki and Mangaia - 3 deputies, Atiu - 2 deputies, Mauke, Mitiaro, Rakahanga, Manihiki, Penrhyn - 1 deputy, Pukapuka together with Nassau - 1 deputy.


Local government

The Outer Islands Local Government Act 1988 is valid for all islands except Rarotonga. According to it, an island council is established on all islands, which includes island chiefs, elders, members of parliament representing the island, and elected members from each constituency of the island.

The local government system for the three districts (waka) of Rarotonga was re-established in 1997 with the passage of the Rarotonga Local Government Act. The first mayoral and councilor elections were held in November 1998. However, in 2008, local self-government was again abolished.

The Cook Islands constitution provides for the establishment of a House of Ariki, which is governed by the House of Ariki Act 1966. The council consists of eight ariki (chiefs) representing the outer islands, and no more than six from the islands of Rarotonga and Palmerston. Its activities are limited to advisory functions.


Political parties

The party system in the Cook Islands is underdeveloped. The country has a two-party system, which means that there are only two dominant parties in the Cook Islands, leading the main political struggle among themselves. The Cook Islands Party and the Democratic Party operate in the Cook Islands. In the past, there was also the First Party of the Cook Islands and Tumu Enua.


Armed forces

Under the Cook Islands Constitution, adopted in 1965, New Zealand is responsible for the defense of the country. However, in practice, this function is exercised only at the request of the Government of the Cook Islands.

There is a Mutual Assistance Program between the Cook Islands and New Zealand, which includes patrolling the Exclusive Coastal Economic Zone of the Cook Islands by New Zealand patrol boats, training specialists from the Cook Islands Maritime Police Department in diving, using small arms, and instructing New Zealand specialists. The official seat of the New Zealand Defense Adviser for the Cook Islands is Wellington.

In 1987, Cook Islands Prime Minister Tom Davis declared the country neutral immediately after New Zealand's refusal to allow US ships carrying nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power plants to enter its ports. The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands stated that New Zealand does not have the right to carry out the defense of the country and the agreements between the countries have long been outdated.

In the 1993 exchange of messages between the governments of the two countries, a compromise was reached, according to which New Zealand recognized the government of the Cook Islands as unlimited control not only over foreign policy, but also over the country's defense.

Internal security is provided by the formations of the national police. The Commissioner of Police is appointed by the Minister of Police.


Foreign policy and international relations

Foreign policy matters for the Cook Islands are under the Cook Islands Constitution Act 1964 under the jurisdiction of New Zealand, which must coordinate action in this area with the government of the Cook Islands. However, since the 1980s, the self-governing territory's foreign policy activities have become increasingly independent. For example, the Cook Islands, regardless of New Zealand, have the right to sign regional and international treaties, join various international organizations, establish consular and diplomatic relations with other countries of the world, and act as a sovereign and independent state in their foreign policy activities. Despite this, the Cook Islands is not a member of the United Nations.

The Cook Islands is a member of a number of regional and international organizations: the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Pacific Commission, the Asian Development Bank, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UNESCO, ACP countries and other organizations. The country has five diplomatic representations abroad: in New Zealand, the USA, Norway, Australia and in the European Union.

The Cook Islands do not have diplomatic relations with Russia.


Relations with China

Diplomatic relations between the Cook Islands and the PRC were established on July 25, 1997. Strengthened ties between China and a number of countries in Oceania, including the Cook Islands, in recent decades have caused some concerns from New Zealand and Australia, whose positions in the region are traditionally strong. Often the countries of Oceania are involved in diplomatic wars between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on the island of Taiwan.

The PRC provides significant financial support to the Cook Islands. The countries cooperate in the field of trade, fisheries, regular meetings of the leaders of the two countries are held. The Cook Islands, in turn, recognize only one China, the People's Republic of China.

In 2003, trade between China and the Cook Islands was US$ 575,000.


Relations with the European Union

The Cook Islands cooperate closely with the European Union, including, in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, there is a diplomatic mission of the Cook Islands. The first honorary consul of the Cook Islands in the region appeared on February 10, 1987 in the city of Oslo, the capital of Norway. The EU countries provide financial and humanitarian assistance to the country (mainly to remote islands), cooperate in the social sphere (health, education), and fisheries.



The latest economic reforms on the islands are aimed at developing the private sector of the economy and creating conditions for its investment. For example, the government reduced taxes.

The main sectors of the economy in recent years are agriculture, tourism and financial services. The service sector is the most dynamic sector of the economy. Tourism, offshore banking companies and other types of financial services are developing rapidly. Currently, tourism is the main supplier of foreign exchange. It is also the main source of income for many families.

Of the approximately 6,600 working-age population, 52% work in the service sector (half in the civil service), 29% in agriculture and 15% in industry.



Agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors in the Cook Islands. Since the 1970s, this sector has undergone significant changes: the role of agriculture in the country's economy has significantly decreased. For example, in 1997, commercial agricultural production did not exceed 2,000 tons and accounted for less than 20% of the country's annual exports. Significant changes can be explained by many factors: the intensive development of tourism, as a result of which the population reoriented from agricultural production to the service sector, the growth of the urban population (the process of urbanization), the outflow of population from remote islands to Rarotonga, and frequent droughts in recent decades. All this led to an increase in imports, and hence to the country's dependence on foreign food supplies. Some of the obstacles to the development of agriculture in the Cook Islands and the competitiveness of their products are the very small area of ​​the country, the remoteness of the islands from world markets, and poor transport links.

The most important crops are tomatoes, white cabbage, bok choy, lettuce, watermelons, pumpkins, squashes, capsicums, legumes, eggplants, as well as traditional crops such as taro, yams, cassava and sweet potatoes. Agriculture is mainly concentrated on the Southern Group Islands, where papaya, coconut, various citrus fruits and tropical fruits are grown for export.



Fish is one of the national treasures of the Cook Islands, which plays a very important role in the country's economy. In the ocean, they mainly fish for tuna, striped marlin, wahoo and moonfish. The main importers of fish products are the markets of Japan, New Zealand and the USA. Fishing for aquarium fish species is also carried out.

In 1957, Trochus niloticus was introduced to Aitutaki Island, and since then the shells of this commercial mollusc, introduced to many islands of the archipelago, have become an important export commodity of the Cook Islands. On the islands of Manihiki and Tongareva of the Northern Group, pearl mussels are bred to obtain valuable black pearls for export. In small ponds, local residents breed lat fish for the domestic market. Chanos chanos.

The state budget is also replenished by issuing licenses to foreign vessels for the right to fish in the Exclusive Economic Zone.



Rarotonga International Airport serves international flights connecting the Cook Islands with many points on Earth. The main company operating flights between Rarotonga and Auckland (New Zealand), Fiji, Tahiti and Los Angeles (USA) is Air New Zealand. Domestic flights, as well as to the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia, are operated by Air Rarotonga.

Public transport (buses) operates on the island of Rarotonga, and if necessary, tourists can rent a car or call a taxi.

A regular steamship line connects the islands with Auckland, Samoa, Tonga and Niue. A whole fleet of small vessels serves domestic lines. Rarotonga and some other South Islands have a developed road network.



Telecommunication services, including domestic and international telephone communications, facsimile and telegraph communication services, the Internet, are provided by Telecom Cook Islands, whose office is located in Avarua. Some of these services are also available on the outlying islands of the archipelago. There is also a postal service, and local postage stamps are of interest to philatelists from all over the world. There are several Internet cafes on the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki, and there is WiFi in key places.

Satellite TV is in operation, including a local channel that mainly broadcasts New Zealand TV programs and is owned by Elijah Communications Ltd (also owner of Radio Cook Islands and The Cook Islands Herald weekly). There is no cable TV on the islands. There are two radio stations in the Cook Islands, Radio Cook Islands and Radio Ikurangi. The daily Cook Islands News is published, and New Zealand and Australian newspapers and magazines are widely distributed. Rarotonga has weekly local newspapers, the Herald and the Independent.



The leading economic sector of the Cook Islands is tourism, which has been intensively developing since 1971. In 2006, 92,095 people visited the islands, thereby providing the country's economy with the necessary funds and giving impetus to the development of tourism infrastructure. The main flow of tourists goes either to the island of Rarotonga or Aitutaki. In recent years, up to 80% of the Cook Islands' GDP has come from tourism. The archipelago is mainly visited by citizens of New Zealand (more than half of the tourists who visited in 2006), Australia, European countries, the USA and Canada. However, a significant increase in the share of the tourism sector in the country's economy can also lead to negative consequences. In the event of a sharp decrease in the number of tourists visiting the Cook Islands, the economy will face difficult tests: a decrease in the country's GDP, a drop in incomes of the population, and hence its emigration to New Zealand.

To enter the country for up to 31 days, a person needs only a valid passport, a return ticket and sufficient funds. If the duration of stay in the Cook Islands is more than 1 month and less than 3 months, a fee of NZ$70 must also be paid (age 15 and over). If the duration of stay on the islands is more than 3 months and up to 5 - you must pay 120 $ NZ. If the duration of stay in the Cook Islands is more than 6 months, a visa is required.


Foreign economic relations

The main exports of the Cook Islands are agricultural products (copra, tomatoes, citrus fruits, pineapples, bananas and other fruits), pearls. The Cook Islands are dependent on imported food, manufactured goods, machinery and fuel. Imports are many times greater than exports. In 2006, exports amounted to NZ$ 5.42 million against NZ$ 14.59 million in 2003, and imports - NZ$ 148.5 million against NZ$ 121.02 million. Thus, over 3 years, exports decreased by 169 %, and imports increased by 22%.

The main trading partner is New Zealand, in addition, there are well-established trade relations with Australia, Japan, the UK and the USA.



Iron-manganese nodules have been found in the area of ​​the Cook Islands.

Monetary system and finance
The monetary unit of the Cook Islands is the New Zealand dollar, but since 1972 Cook Islands dollars have also been in circulation, equated in a ratio of 1: 1 to the New Zealand dollar. Banknotes have been in circulation since 1987 (before that, only coins).

The budget for 2006 had expenditures of NZ$92.8 million and revenues of NZ$103.2 million. The largest expenditure item in the budget is infrastructure spending. The cost of maintaining the order and security of the country is NZ$ 4.5 million. The share of spending on healthcare in 2006 was 12% of all spending, on education - 16%. Among the incomes, the most important are the receipts from taxes and duties. Postage stamps and collectible coins are also an important source of replenishment of the country's budget.

A large number of banks, including international ones, are registered on the territory of the Cook Islands. The 2003 Banking Law provides for three types of licenses: a domestic banking license, an international banking license, and a limited international banking license. The Cook Islands are one of the largest offshore centers in the world.



Pre-colonial organization of the Cook Islanders
Before the advent of Europeans, there was a tribal social organization of the inhabitants on the Cook Islands. On each of the islands lived peoples, or waka, representing large social and territorial groups. Waka was formed as a result of the merger of different genera, whose members were united by common ancestors who, according to local legends, sailed by canoe. The titled head of the people was the Ariki, who was treated with deep reverence, since, according to the ideas of the members of the people, he had a divine origin and was endowed with supernatural power. People's questions were also discussed in the "royal court" or koutu. The waka was divided into tapers, which were small plots of land headed by a matayapo (leader of the main clan) or ariki (supreme leader of the people) and stretching from the center of the island to the reef of the island. The inhabitants of Tapere were collectively known as Matakeinanga.


Culture and life

music and dancing
Music and dance play a very important role in Maori life in the Cook Islands. Each island has its own variations of the dance, and some of the islanders are taught traditional singing and dancing from early childhood. Concerts are organized especially for tourists, and a small group of professional dancers tours around the world. The traditional Kuk Khura dance (Kuksk. hura) is distinguished by its rhythm and complexity. The most popular musical instrument is the drum.



The literature of the Cook Islands is mainly represented by numerous local legends. Of contemporary writers, Kauraka Kauraka (1951-1997), who was born on the island of Rarotonga and buried on Manihiki, is the most famous. He has written 6 collections of poetry and non-fiction in English and Cook Islands Maori. In addition to literary activities, he was engaged in music, photography, and was an anthropologist.


Traditional crafts

Many islands, such as Atiu, are famous for their textiles, or tivaevae (Kuk tivaevae), which combine applique and embroidery, as well as traditional jewelry: necklaces, or ei (Kuk. ei), and diadems, or ei-katu ( kuksk ei katu). Precious items are made mainly from black pearls. Among other traditional crafts, embroidered pandanus mats, baskets, bags and fans stand out. On many islands, craftsmen carve figurines.



Due to its small population, the Cook Islands are inferior in most sports to their immediate neighbors. The most popular sport game is rugby. The country even has its own national team. The Tereora National Stadium regularly hosts rugby matches on Saturdays from June to August. Another popular game is cricket (the season of games falls on December-March). In December 2001, the Cook Islands took part in the South Pacific Mini Games on Norfolk Island, winning several medals there. The island of Rarotonga also has several tennis courts, squash courts, and golf courses. Surfing has been popular among the locals since ancient times. Triathlon competitions are held annually in September.

The Cook Islands has its own national football team, recognized by FIFA and the Oceania Football Confederation. The first international match with their participation took place on September 2, 1971, in which the Cook Islands lost to the Tahiti team with a score of 0:30.

The country has been participating in the Summer Olympic Games since 1988 (held in the capital of South Korea, Seoul). However, in the entire history of their participation in the Olympic movement, the Cook Islands have not won a single medal. The Cook Islands Olympic team is represented in such disciplines as athletics, weightlifting, boxing.


Social sphere


Health problems among the local population are associated mainly with non-contagious diseases, as well as overweight. The main causes of death are hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary heart disease and diabetes mellitus. In 1980, studies were conducted by the Government of the Cook Islands and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community on 1,127 adults in Rarotonga. As a result, it turned out that almost half of the women were overweight (140% overweight). A follow-up study was conducted in 1987. According to him, 20% of men and 50% of women were obese. In 2002, 3,600 residents of Rarotonga were surveyed. According to the results, at least 80% of the population was overweight or obese, 12% had diabetes, and about a third of those surveyed had high blood pressure. A similar pattern was observed on other islands.



The Cook Islands has a relatively long history of education. The first schools appeared in 1823 with the arrival of a missionary from the London Missionary Society, John Williams, to the islands. The classes were taught by Tahitian teachers in the Maori language with an emphasis on religion and practical exercises. In 1840, a special teacher training center appeared in Avarua, and by 1860, universal primary education was introduced in the Cook Islands.

The main government agency responsible for the country's educational system is the Ministry of Education. In 2000, there were 28 primary schools in the Cook Islands, 10 of which were on Rarotonga. Twenty-three schools were public, one was owned by the church, and the rest were private. There are 23 secondary schools, three of which are located in Rarotonga.

In 2007, there were 1,968 pupils in elementary schools in the Cook Islands and 1,915 in secondary schools.

The Cook Islands education system is closely related to the New Zealand education system and basically follows the same curriculum. As in New Zealand, in the Cook Islands education is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 15. Primary and secondary education is free and funded by the government, resulting in a very high literacy rate.

It is very difficult to get a good higher education on the islands, so those who wish go to New Zealand. The country has a Pedagogical College (Eng. Teachers Training College), Trade, Tourism Training Centers, in Avarua there is a branch of the University of the South Pacific.



Contrary to popular belief, James Cook was not eaten in the Cook Islands. In fact, he was killed in the Hawaiian Islands.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first artificial Earth satellite in the Cook Islands by the USSR, a silver coin was issued with images of our planet and the legendary satellite in orbit.
In 2007, in New Zealand, especially for the Cook Islands, 4 coins with a denomination of two dollars from 999 silver, dedicated to Sherlock Holmes, were issued. In the image of the famous detective, the popular Soviet actor Vasily Livanov acted. The reverse of the coins also features Vitaly Solomin as Watson and Nikita Mikhalkov as Baskerville.
The inhabitants of Palmerston Atoll speak English with a South Pacific variety of Gloucestershire accent.
In 2007, the New Zealand Mint - again for the Cook Islands - issued a circulation of 20,000 copies of 2 two-dollar coins made of 999 silver, dedicated to the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the legendary Soviet and Russian Kalashnikov assault rifle model 1947 - AK-47, which is used in more than than 100 countries of the world and is officially in service with 50, as well as Mikhail Kalashnikov himself. The reverse of one of the coins depicts a machine gun, which has proven itself to be the most reliable in the world and suitable for any climatic conditions, a Russian soldier with a machine gun in his hands and a colored red star with a golden hammer and sickle against its background. On the reverse is another - a color portrait of Lieutenant General M. Kalashnikov against the background of a red banner and, again, a machine gun.