About Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are a scattered group of islands found in the center of the Polynesian triangle which is about midway between New Zealand and Hawaii. The total land area is 241 sq km. Physically the Cook islands can be subdivided into 2 distinct groups. The southern Cook Islands which includes Raratonga, the largest of the islands, Aitutaki , Atiu, Takutea, Mauke, Mitiaro and Manuae and the northern Cook Islands which includese Penrhyn, Manihiki, Pukapuka, Palmerston, Rakahanga, Suvorov and Nassau. The Cook Islands have a volcanic or coral make up or a combination of both.
Over 80% of the Cook Islanders are Polynesians Maoris. The traditions, languages, culture and customs of the Cook islands Maoris is very smilar to that of the New Zealand Maoris.English is the official language but there is widespread use of Maori and many other dialects. Ninety percent of the Cook Islands coastal population resides on areas on Rarotonga in the southern group, the rest of the population lives on the islands in the northern group.
The administrative and commercial center of the Cook Islands in the capital city Avarua, located on the main island, Raratonga. The Cook Islands are a self governing parliamentary democracy. The Queen of England is the head of state in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand and New Zealand has a High Commissioner on the Islands. The local head of state is the prime minister, supported by a cabinet, and a legislative assembly. However the traditional tribal chiefs have local representation, (the “Ariki”) have their own house of representatives where they consider matters submitted by the legislative assembly.
The climate is tropical, moderated by trade winds. Whilst rainfall averages 2000mm per annum on the mountain slopes of Rarotonga much drier conditions prevail further north. The Islands are lashed by typhoons from November to March.
While the island history is colored by Spanish discovery, Portuguese settlement, Russian naming, the British played a a significant role when the islands become a British in Protectorate in 1888 and later annexed to New Zealand in 1901. The cook islands are self governing, and get New Zealand support in external affairs, defense and finances only.
The Cook Islands’ economic development is hindered by its geographical isolation. However, the, minimal access to foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, the lack of natural resources, and derisory infrastructure also impacts the economy s well.
Agriculture is the main economic driver, which employs a majority of islanders. Copra and other citrus fruit are biggest agricultural exports, but the cook island Black pearl is the leading export product. There is limited manufacturing operations mainly, local handcrafts, fruit and agricultural processing. There are indicators of a strengthening in the economic position for the Cook Islands and the administration is focused on pushing tourism finance as diversified economic drivers.