Cook Islands

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Cook Islands (English)
Kūki 'Āirani (Rarotongan)
Cook Islands
Cook Islands flag
Cook Islands Coat of Arms
flag coat of arms
Official language Rarotongan , English
Capital Avarua
Form of government Parliamentary democracy , self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand ( constitutional monarchy )
Head of state Queen of New Zealand Elizabeth II
represented by Tom Marsters
Head of government Prime Minister Henry Puna
surface 242 km²
population 18,600 (June 2011)
Population density 76.9 inhabitants per km²
currency Cook Islands dollar

New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

independence August 4, 1965 (self-government)
(free association with New Zealand )
National anthem Te Atua Mou E.
Time zone UTC − 10
ISO 3166 CK
Internet TLD .ck
Telephone code +682
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The Cook Islands ( English Cook Islands, Rarotongan Kūki 'Āirani; other names: Cook Archipelago, Mangaia Archipelago, Hervey Islands ) are an independent island state in "free association with New Zealand " and an archipelago in the southern Pacific . Their area is 242 km² and they have about 18,600 inhabitants, almost all of which can be attributed to the Cook Islands Maori . The capital is Avarua on the island of Rarotonga . The Cook Islands are the first country where women for election went.


The Cook Islands are divided into a southern group with the main island of Rarotonga and the islands or archipelagos Aitutaki , Atiu , Mangaia , Manuae , Mauke , Mitiaro , Palmerston and Takutea and a northern group with the islands of Manihiki , Nassau , Penrhyn , Pukapuka , Rakahanga and Suwarrow . The northern group is also known as the Manihiki Islands or Roggeveen Archipelago in older literature . In the Maori language, the northern group was called Te pa enua tokerau and the southern Te pa enua i raro nei . Palmerston was formerly part of the northern group.

The islands of the northern group are mostly atolls . They are low and difficult to access due to coral reefs . The remaining islands are of volcanic origin, up to over 600 meters high and covered with lush vegetation. Coconut palms , breadfruit and pisang thrive here .


While 21,300 people lived on the Cook Islands in 1971, the population has steadily fallen below the 20,000 mark since the late 1970s. The last census in 2001 showed a population of around 18,000. While this population residing in the Cook Islands has been increasing again since then and amounted to an estimated 21,300 inhabitants in 2006, the permanent resident population continues to decrease significantly. In 2001 this proportion of the population was around 15,000, but in 2006 it is an estimated 11,800. The population growth of the Cook Islands can therefore be estimated at an average of 3.4% since the census from 2001 to 2006, the population permanently residing in the Cook Islands is decreasing annually (as of 2012) by an average of 3.14%. No other independent state has had a greater population decline .

According to the WHO , 50.8% of the population have a body mass index over 30 and are therefore considered seriously overweight and morbidly obese. The Cook Islands have the highest prevalence of obesity in the population of all countries and territories worldwide.


The two official languages ​​of the Cook Islands are English and Cook Islands Maori (also Rarotongan). Other languages ​​are Pukapukan , Penrhyn and Rakahanga-Manihiki .

Ethnicities and religions

87.7% of the population are Cook Islands Maori , another 5.8% are partly of Maori descent, the remaining 6.5% are of other origins.

As a result of the work of European missionaries from 1823, Christianity became the most widespread religion . According to a census 55% of the population which includes Protestant Cook Islands Christian Church , 17% of the Catholic Church , 8% of the Adventist Church , 4% the Pentecostal (Assembly of God / Apostolic Church), 4% the Mormons and 2% to Jehovah's Witnesses at .


The Cook Islands were probably discovered and settled by Polynesians from the Society Islands and Samoa in the 9th century .

The first European contact with the Cook Islands is dated to the year 1595, when the Spaniard Alvaro de Mendaña de Neyra landed on the northern island of Pukapuka. In 1606, the Spaniards landed on Rakahanga under the Portuguese Pedro Fernández de Quirós . The British only reached the island of Pukapuka in 1764 and named it Danger Island because they were unable to go ashore.

Between 1773 and 1779 James Cook visited the southern islands of the archipelago several times without ever seeing Rarotonga, the main island. Captain William Bligh landed the Bounty on Aitutaki in 1789. It was he who brought the breadfruit tree to the Cook Islands. James Cook named the first island of Manuae on which he landed the Hervey Islands . The name Cook Islands for the entire archipelago was given by the Baltic German admiral Adam Johann von Krusenstern during his round-the-world expedition in honor of the navigator James Cook and appeared for the first time on a Russian nautical chart at the beginning of the 19th century.

In September / October of 1813 the first European officials landed on the ship Endeavor in the Cook Islands. Then, in 1814, the Cumberland came with traders via New Zealand and Australia to look for sandalwood . They didn't find any on Rarotonga, so disputes broke out between the seafarers and the islanders. Many were killed, including the captain's European mistress, Ann Butchers . She was eaten and her bones were buried in Muri. To date, she is considered the only white woman to have been killed and eaten by cannibals .

The islands were "protected" by the United Kingdom in 1888 . They are the first state in which women voted. Although universal suffrage was not officially guaranteed until three days after the New Zealand Election Act , the women of Rarotonga voted on October 14, 1893, ahead of the New Zealanders. In 1900 the Cook Islands were annexed by the United Kingdom . From 1901, the islands were administratively assigned to New Zealand and were subordinate to a Resident Commissioner (local government commissioner) who was appointed by the New Zealand government. In 1946, a local Legislative Council was set up, which initially only had an advisory role. From 1957 an elected legislative assembly existed, which gradually gained powers. On August 4, 1965, the Cook Islands were given full independence with an elected government and their own prime minister. However, the islanders retained New Zealand citizenship. New Zealand was given the right to represent them in foreign affairs “at the request of the Cook Islands government” and to ensure their defense. New Zealand also continued to fund part of the budget.

In early March 2019, considerations became known that the islands would give themselves a more traditional Polynesian name. According to initial proposals, as in the 1994 referendum, the name "Avaika Nui" should become a favorite.


The international legal status of the Cook Islands is special. The Cook Islands are an independent state in "free association with New Zealand" (see also Niue ). This status was chosen by the Cook Islands in an act of self-determination that was overseen and approved by the United Nations in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV).

The Cook Islands are self-governing. Their legal system is separate and independent from that of New Zealand. The legislative and executive power is not restricted by New Zealand. However, the Cook Islands do not have their own nationality; the residents of the country are citizens of New Zealand. However, there is the Constitution of the Cook Islands the legal status of "permanent resident" ( permanent resident ), who is tied to the birth in the Cook Islands and the status of the parents. The Cook Islands dollar pegged to the New Zealand dollar exists as a currency .

On the basis of an agreement from 1973, New Zealand has taken on tasks of external representation and security policy within the framework of a consultation mechanism. The association relationship does not prevent the Cook Islands from entering into agreements under international law. Such agreements have been made bilaterally and multilaterally. The association relationship with New Zealand has developed since 1965.

The Cook Islands have been a member of the Pacific Islands Forum since 1971 . In the Commonwealth of Nations are an associate member; but they are not members of the United Nations . The Cook Islands are a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) .

International recognition

Germany recognized the Cook Islands as an independent state in March 2001. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on September 11, 2001. The German ambassador in Wellington is also accredited to the Cook Islands.

  • States with diplomatic relations with the Cook Islands
  • States with only consular relations with the Cook Islands
  • The Cook Islands
  • The following 52 states have recognized the Cook Islands as an independent state and established diplomatic relations:


    Administrative division

    There are island councils , district councils and village committees.

    Rarotonga german version.png Rarotonga Island.jpg Rarotonga 67 km² 14,153 inhabitants Main island , the most densely populated and largest of the 15 Cook Islands
    Aitutakitopo.png Aitutaki Aerial.jpg Aitutaki 19 km² 1,800 inhabitants including the uninhabited atoll of Manuae
    Mangaia german version.png Mangaia (Correct Orientation) .JPG Mangaia 52 km² about 700 inhabitants second largest of the Cook Islands
    Atiumap.png Atiu Aerial.jpg Atiu 27 km² about 600 inhabitants including the uninhabited island of Takutea
    Mauke map.jpg Mauke Aerial.jpg Muck 20.3 km² about 650 inhabitants
    Mitiaro Island map.jpg Mitiaro Aerial.jpg Mitiaro 22.8 km² 230 inhabitants
    Manihiki.jpg Manihiki Aerial.jpg Manihiki 5.4 km² 515 inhabitants Nickname: Island of Pearls
    Penrhyn.png Penhryn atoll.jpg Penrhyn 10 km² 357 inhabitants Local name: Tongareva
    Rakahanga.jpg Rakahanga atoll.jpg Rakahanga 4.1 km² 141 inhabitants
    Pukapuka.png Pukapuka Atoll.jpg Pukapuka 4.3 km² about 600 inhabitants including the islands of Nassau (1.2 km²) and Suwarrow (1.7 km²)
    Palmerston Island map.jpg Palmerston Atoll.jpg Palmerston 2 km² about 50 residents Local name: Pamati
    All residents are descendants of the Englishman William Marsters (1831–1899).




    The gross domestic product is around 89 million euros.

    Agriculture in the Cook Islands consists mainly of tropical agriculture. This is only partially market-oriented. This is especially true for the cultivation of papaya, peppers, melons as well as the cultivation of bananas and coconut palms. Market-oriented crops are oranges, vegetables (tomatoes, peppers and zucchini) and pineapples. The remainder of the agricultural area consists mainly of taro cultivation (in wet beds). Abandoned fields are not uncommon on Rarotonga.

    Offshore financial center

    The Cook Islands, whose finance and tax laws were drafted in 1981 with the substantial involvement of US business lawyers, have been under increasing criticism for some time, as the country's importance as a location for financial companies specializing in offshore business has been growing rapidly in recent years . Several banks located on the islands are accused of targeting tax evaders and neglecting legal and moral reservations. Since the islands are a sovereign state that has not signed any corresponding agreements with other nations, legally and illegally acquired funds that are invested on the islands are protected from access by third parties; information is usually not given either. This makes the islands particularly attractive to investors from the US and Canada, who neither have diplomatic relations with them. This is what the nickname Crook Islands ("crook islands") is based on.

    On January 28, 2016, the EU Commission presented a package of measures to combat tax evasion , including the Cook Islands on the black list of tax havens .


    The Rarotonga Airport offers international flights to Tahiti to Australia, New Zealand and the United States.


    Web links

    Commons : Cook Islands  - Album containing pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikimedia Atlas: Cook Islands  - geographical and historical maps
    Wiktionary: Cook Islands  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

    Individual evidence

    1. The latter, historically nonsensical designation was first used by French cartographers, who apparently confused the Cook Islands with the Samoa group traveled by Jakob Roggeveen in 1722 .
    2. Demographic Indicators. Statistics Office, archived from the original on March 7, 2012 ; accessed on January 20, 2016 (English, original website no longer available).
    3. Cook Statistics Office: Population Estimates and Vital Statistics ( Memento of March 7, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
    4. CIA Factbook: Cook Islands
    5. Global Obesity Levels - Obesity - Retrieved September 15, 2017 .
    6. ^ Jad Adams: Women and the Vote. A world history. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014, ISBN 978-0-19-870684-7 , page 26.
    7. ^ Cook Islands achieves self-government., accessed March 6, 2019 .
    8. ^ Cook Islands. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, accessed March 6, 2019 .
    9. ^ Cook Islands considers name change to reflect heritage. BBC News, March 6, 2019, accessed March 6, 2019 .
    10. Cook Islands to choose new indigenous name and remove any associate with British explorer. The Telegraph, March 6, 2019.
    11. Cook Islands Constitution, Constitution Amendment (No 9) Act 1980-81, Article 76A (1)
    12. Country information from the German Foreign Office on the Cook Islands
    13. ^ Cook Islands, a Paradise of Untouchable Assets , New York Times, December 14, 2013
    14. Trend: EU wants new black list of tax havens

    Coordinates: 15 °  S , 161 °  W