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.