The World Factbook (1990)/Cook Islands

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Cook Islands
(free association with New Zealand)

 See regional map X


Total area: 240 km²; land area: 240 km²

Comparative area: slightly less than 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 120 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 meters or edge of continental margin
Extended 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

Natural resources: negligible

Land use: 4% arable land; 22% permanent crops; 0% meadows and pastures; 0% forest and woodland; 74% other

Environment: subject to typhoons from November to March

Note: located 4,500 km south of Hawaii in the South Pacific Ocean


Population: 18,187 (July 1990), growth rate 0.5% (1990)

Birth rate: 22 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 10 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 24 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 66 years male, 72 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.5 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Cook Islander(s); adjective—Cook Islander

Ethnic divisions: 81.3% Polynesian (full blood), 7.7% Polynesian and European, 7.7% Polynesian and other, 2.4% European, 0.9% other

Religion: Christian, majority of populace members of Cook Islands Christian Church

Language: English

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: 5,810; agriculture 29%, government 27%, services 25%, industry 15%, and other 4% (1981)

Organized labor: NA


Long-form name: none

Type: self-governing in free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs, in consultation with the Cook Islands

Capital: Avarua

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: 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

Constitution: 4 August 1965

National holiday: NA

Executive branch: British monarch, representative of the UK, representative of New Zealand, prime minister, deputy prime minister, Cabinet

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament; note—the unicameral House of Arikis (chiefs) advises on traditional matters, but has no legislative powers

Judicial branch: High Court

Leaders: Chief of State—Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); Representative of the UK Sir Tangaroa TANGAROA (since NA); Representative of New Zealand Adrian SINCOCK (since NA);

Head of Government—Prime Minister Geoffrey HENRY (since NA February 1989); Deputy Prime Minister Inatio AKARURU (since NA)

Political parties and leaders: Cook Islands Party, Geoffrey Henry; Democratic Tumu Party, Vincent Ingram; Democratic Party, Dr. Vincent Pupuke Robati; Cook Islands Labor Party, Rena Jonassen; Cook Islands People's Party, Sadaraka Sadaraka

Suffrage: universal adult at age NA

Elections: Parliament—last held 19 January 1989 (next to be held by January 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(24 total) Cook Islands Party 12, Democratic Tumu Party 2, opposition coalition (including Democratic Party) 9, independent 1

Member of: ADB, ESCAP (associate member), IDA, IFC, IMF, SPF

Diplomatic representation: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)

Flag: 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


Overview: Agriculture provides the economic base. The major export earners are fruit, copra, and clothing. Manufacturing activities are limited to a fruit-processing plant and several clothing factories. Economic development is hindered by the isolation of the islands from foreign markets and a lack of natural resources and good transportation links. A large trade deficit is annually made up for by remittances from emigrants and from foreign aid. Current economic development plans call for exploiting the tourism potential and expanding the fishing industry.

GDP: $40.0 million, per capita $2,200 (1988 est.); real growth rate 5.3% (1986-88 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 8.0% (1988)

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget: revenues $33.8 million; expenditures $34.4 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1990 est.)

Exports: $4.0 million (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—copra, fresh and canned fruit, clothing; partners—NZ 80%, Japan

Imports: $38.7 million (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber; partners—NZ 49%, Japan, Australia, US

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 4,800 kW capacity; 15 million kWh produced, 830 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: fruit processing, tourism

Agriculture: export crops—copra, citrus fruits, pineapples, tomatoes, bananas; subsistence crops—yams, taro

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $128 million

Currency: New Zealand dollar (plural—dollars); 1 New Zealand dollar (NZ$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars (NZ$) per US$1—1.6581 (January 1990), 1.6708 (1989), 1.5244 (1988), 1.6886 (1987), 1.9088 (1986), 2.0064 (1985)

Fiscal year: 1 April-31 March


Highways: 187 km total (1980); 35 km paved, 35 km gravel, 84 km improved earth, 33 km unimproved earth

Ports: Avatiu

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airports: 7 total, 5 usable; 1 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 2,439 m; 3 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: stations—2 AM, no FM, no TV; 10,000 radio receivers; 2,052 telephones; 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand