Planning a trip to Cook Islands?

Find out what visa options are available for your nationality.
Access requirements, application forms, and online ordering.

Economy of Cook Islands

Like many other South Pacific island nations, the Cook Islands' economic development is hindered by the isolation of the country from foreign markets, the limited size of domestic markets, lack of natural resources, periodic devastation from natural disasters, and inadequate infrastructure. Agriculture provides the economic base with major exports made up of copra and citrus fruit. Manufacturing activities are limited to fruit processing, clothing, and handicrafts. Trade deficits are offset by remittances from emigrants and by foreign aid, overwhelmingly from New Zealand. In the 1980s and 1990s, the country lived beyond its means, maintaining a bloated public service and accumulating a large foreign debt. Subsequent reforms, including the sale of state assets, the strengthening of economic management, the encouragement of tourism, and a debt restructuring agreement, have rekindled investment and growth.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $105 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 7.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $5,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 17%
industry: 7.8%
services: 75.2% (2000 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.2% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
8,000 (1996)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 29%, industry 15%, services 56%
note: shortage of skilled labor (1995)
Unemployment rate:
13% (1996)
revenues: $28 million
expenditures: $27 million, including capital expenditures of $3.3 million (FY00/01 est.)
Industries: fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate: 1% (2002)
Electricity - production: 27.43 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption: 25.51 million kWh (2001)
Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption: 450 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Agriculture - products: copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry
Exports: $9.1 million (2000)
Exports - commodities: copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing
Exports - partners: Australia 34%, Japan 27%, New Zealand 25%, US 8% (2000)
Imports: $50.7 million (2000)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods
Imports - partners: NZ 61%, Fiji 19%, US 9%, Australia 6%, Japan 2% (2000)
Debt - external: $141 million (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: $13.1 million; note - New Zealand continues to furnish the greater part (1995)
Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code: NZD
Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars per US dollar - 2.3535 (January 2002), 2.3776 (2001), 2.1863 (2000), 1.8886 (1999), 1.8632 (1998), 1.5083 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March

Geography of Cook Islands

Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand Geographic coordinates: 21 14 S, 159 46 W Map references: Oceania Area: total: 240 sq km land: 240 sq km water: 0 sq km Area-comparative: 1.3 times the size of Washington, DC Land boundaries: 0 km Coastline: 120 km Maritime claims: continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin exclusive 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 Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: Te Manga 652 m Natural resources: NEGL Land use: arable land: 9% permanent crops: 13% permanent pastures: NA% forests and woodland: NA% other: 78% (1993 est.) Irrigated land: NA sq km Natural hazards: typhoons (November to March) Environment-current issues: NA Environment-international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertication, Law of the Sea signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Government of Cook Islands

Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Cook Islands Data code: CW Dependency status: self-governing in free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands is fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs, in consultation with the Cook Islands Government type: self-governing parliamentary democracy Capital: Avarua Administrative divisions: none Independence: none (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) National holiday: Constitution Day, 4 August Constitution: 4 August 1965
Legal system:
based on New Zealand law and English common law Suffrage: NA years of age; universal adult Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952), represented by Frederick GOODWIN (since 9 February 2001); New Zealand High Commissioner Kurt MEYER (since NA), representative of New Zealand head of government: Prime Minister Jim MARURAI (since 14 December 2004); Deputy Prime Minister SIR Geoffrey HENRY (since 14 December 2004) cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the UK representative is appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner is appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually becomes prime minister Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (25 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) elections: last held 7 September 2004 (next to be held by 2009) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CIP 10, DAP 9, Demo Tumu 4, independent 1; note - one seat undecided pending by-election note: the House of Ariki (chiefs) advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence, but has no legislative powers Judicial branch: High Court Political parties and leaders: Cook Islands People's Party or CIP [Geoffrey HENRY]; Democratic Alliance Party or DAP [Terepai MAOATE]; New Alliance Party or NAP [Norman GEORGE]; Cook Islands National Party or CIN [Teariki HEATHER]; Demo Party Tumu [Robert WOONTON] International organization participation: AsDB, ESCAP (associate), FAO, ICAO, ICFTU, IFAD, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, OPCW, Sparteca, SPC, SPF, UNESCO, WHO, WMO Diplomatic representation in the US: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand) Diplomatic representation from the US: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand) Flag description: 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.

Back to Top

History of Cook Islands

The Lonely Planet has good information regarding the History of the Cook Islands .

People of Cook Islands

Population: 21,200 (July 2004 est.)

Nationality: noun: Cook Islander(s)

adjective: Cook Islander

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

Religions: Christian (majority of populace are members of the Cook Islands Christian Church)

Languages: English (official), Maori

Literacy: total population: 95%