Statistical information Cook Islands 2023Cook%20Islands

Map of Cook Islands | Geography | People | Government | Economy | Energy | Communication
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Cook Islands in the World
Cook Islands in the World

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Cook Islands - Introduction 2023
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Polynesians from Tahiti were probably the first people to settle Rarotonga around A.D. 900. Over time, Samoans and Tongans also settled in Rarotonga, and Rarotongans voyaged to the northern Cook Islands, settling Manihiki and Rakahanga. Pukapuka and Penrhyn in the northern Cook Islands were settled directly from Samoa. Prior to European contact, there was considerable travel and trade between inhabitants of the different islands and atolls but they were not united in a single political entity. Spanish navigators were the first Europeans to spot the northern Cook Islands in 1595 followed by the first landing in 1606. The Cook Islands remained free of further European contact until the 1760s, and in 1773, British explorer James COOK saw Manuae in the southern Cook Islands. The islands were named after COOK in the 1820s by Russian mapmakers. English missionary activity during the 1820s and 1830s banned singing and dancing and converted most of the population.

Fearing France would militarily occupy the islands like it did in Tahiti, Rarotongans asked the UK for protectorate status in the 1840s and 1860s, which the UK ignored. In 1888, Queen MAKEA TAKAU of Rarotonga formally petitioned for protectorate status, which the UK reluctantly agreed to. In 1901, the UK placed Rarotonga and the rest of the islands in the New Zealand Colony and in 1915, the Cook Islands Act organized the Cook Islands into one political entity. It remained a protectorate until 1965, when New Zealand granted the Cook Islands self-government status. The Cook Islands has a great deal of local autonomy and is an independent member of international organizations, but it is in free association with New Zealand, which is responsible for defense and foreign affairs. In September 2023, the US recognized the Cook Islands as a sovereign and independent state. 

Cook Islands - Geography 2023
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Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand

Geographic coordinates: 21 14 S, 159 46 W

Map referenceOceania

Total: 236 km²
Land: 236 km²
Water: 0 km²
Comparative: 1.3 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries
Total: 0 km

Coastline: 120 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

Climate: tropical oceanic; moderated by trade winds; a dry season from April to November and a more humid season from December to March

Terrain: low coral atolls in north; volcanic, hilly islands in south

Highest point: Te Manga 652 m
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Natural resources: coconuts (copra)
Land use

Land use
Agricultural land: 8.4% (2018 est.)
Agricultural land arable land: 4.2% (2018 est.)
Agricultural land permanent crops: 4.2% (2018 est.)
Agricultural land permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)
Forest: 64.6% (2018 est.)
Other: 27% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land: NA

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources: 0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Natural hazards: tropical cyclones (November to March)

Note: the northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls; the southern Cook Islands, where most of the population lives, consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles, including the largest, Rarotonga, at 67 km²

Cook Islands - People 2023
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Distribution: most of the population is found on the island of Rarotonga: 7,939 (2023 est.)
Note: the Cook Islands' Ministry of Finance & Economic Management estimated the resident population to have been 11,700 in September 2016
Growth rate: -2.31% (2023 est.)
Below poverty line: NA

Noun: Cook Islander(s)
Adjective: Cook Islander

Ethnic groups: Cook Island Maori (Polynesian) 81.3%, part Cook Island Maori 6.7%, other 11.9% (2011 est.)

Languages: English (official) 86.4%, Cook Islands Maori (Rarotongan) (official) 76.2%, other 8.3% (2011 est.)
Note: shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census

Religions: Protestant 62.8% (Cook Islands Christian Church 49.1%, Seventh Day Adventist 7.9%, Assemblies of God 3.7%, Apostolic Church 2.1%), Roman Catholic 17%, Church of Jesus Christ 4.4%, other 8%, none 5.6%, no response 2.2% (2011 est.)

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years: 18.43% (male 766/female 697)
15-64 years: 66.23% (male 2,713/female 2,545)
65 years and over: 15.34% (2023 est.) (male 596/female 622)

Dependency ratios
Total dependency ratio: 53.8
Youth dependency ratio: 36.4
Elderly dependency ratio: 17.4
Potential support ratio: 5.8 (2021)

Median age
Total: 40.6 years (2023 est.)
Male: 40.3 years
Female: 41 years

Population growth rate: -2.31% (2023 est.)

Birth rate: 12.3 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Death rate: 9.2 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Net migration rate: -26.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Population distribution: most of the population is found on the island of Rarotonga

Urban population: 76.2% of total population (2023)
Rate of urbanization: 0.52% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas

Current issues: limited land presents solid and liquid waste disposal problems; soil destruction and deforestation; environmental degradation due to indiscriminate use of pesticides; improper disposal of pollutants; overfishing and destructive fishing practices; over dredging of lagoons and coral rubble beds; unregulated building
International agreements party to: Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
International agreements signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Air pollutants
Particulate matter emissions: 7.8 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.96 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate
Total: 15.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)
Male: 19.5 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 11.3 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 77.4 years (2023 est.)
Male: 74.6 years
Female: 80.3 years

Total fertility rate: 2.04 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate: NA

Drinking water source
Improved urban: NA
Improved rural: NA
Improved total: 100% of population
Unimproved urban: NA
Unimproved rural: NA
Unimproved total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure: 3.2% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density: 1.41 physicians/1,000 population (2014)

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access
Improved urban:

rural: NA

total: 99.1% of population

Unimproved urban:

rural: NA

total: 0.9% of population (2020 est.)


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate: 55.9% (2016)

Alcohol consumption
Per capita total: 12.97 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)
Per capita beer: 3.62 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)
Per capita wine: 2.28 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)
Per capita spirits: 7.07 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)
Per capita other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

Tobacco use
Total: 24% (2020 est.)
Male: 27.7% (2020 est.)
Female: 20.3% (2020 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight: NA

Education expenditures: 4.6% of GDP (2021 est.)

Total population: NA
Male: NA
Female: NA

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education
Total: 15 years
Male: 15 years
Female: 14 years (2012)

Youth unemployment

Cook Islands - Government 2023
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Country name
Conventional long form: none
Conventional short form: Cook Islands
Former: Hervey Islands
Etymology: named after Captain James COOK, the British explorer who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777

Government type: parliamentary democracy

Name: Avarua
Geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
Time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Etymology: translates as "two harbors" in Maori

Administrative divisions: none

Dependent areas

Independence: 4 August 1965 (Cook Islands became self-governing state in free association with New Zealand)

National holiday: Constitution Day, the first Monday in August (1965)

History: 4 August 1965 (Cook Islands Constitution Act 1964)
Amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Parliament membership in each of several readings and assent of the chief of state’s representative; passage of amendments relating to the chief of state also requires two-thirds majority approval in a referendum; amended many times, last in 2004

Legal system: common law similar to New Zealand common law

International law organization participation: has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration (New Zealand normally retains responsibility for external affairs); accepts ICCt jurisdiction


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Sir Tom J. MARSTERS (since 9 August 2013); New Zealand High Commissioner Ms Legislative branch
Description: unicameral Parliament, formerly the Legislative Assembly (24 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); note - the House of Ariki, a 24-member parliamentary body of traditional leaders appointed by the King's representative serves as a consultative body to the Parliament
Elections: last held on 1 August 2022 (next to be held by 2,026)
Election results: percent of vote by party - CIP 44%, Demo 26.9%, Cook Islands United Party 26.9%, OCI 2.7%, other 0.2% independent 7.3%; seats by party - CIP 12, Demo 5, Cook Islands United Party 3, OCI 1, independent 3; composition as of September 2023 - men 18, women 6, percent of women 25%

Judicial branch
Highest courts: Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and 3 judges of the High Court); High Court (consists of the chief justice and at least 4 judges and organized into civil, criminal, and land divisions); note - appeals beyond the Cook Islands Court of Appeal are heard by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
Judge selection and term of office: High Court chief justice appointed by the Queen's Representative on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the prime minister; other judges appointed by the Queen's Representative, on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the chief justice, High Court chief justice, and the minister of justice; chief justice and judges appointed for 3-year renewable terms
Subordinate courts: justices of the peace

Political parties and leaders:
Cook Islands Party or CIP [Mark BROWN]
Cook Islands United Party [Teariki HEATHER]
Democratic Party or Demo [Tina BROWNE]
One Cook Islands Movement or OCI [George TURIA]

International organization participation: ACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IMO, IMSO, IOC, ITUC (NGOs), OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO

Diplomatic representation
In the us: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
From the us embassy: none (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
From the us note: on 25 September 2023, the US officially established diplomatic relations with Cook Islands

Flag descriptionflag of Cook%20Islands: 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

National symbols: a circle of 15, five-pointed, white stars on a blue field, Tiare maori (Gardenia taitensis) flower; national colors: green, white

National anthem
Name: "Te Atua Mou E" (To God Almighty)
Lyrics/music: Tepaeru Te RITO/Thomas DAVIS
Note: adopted 1982; as prime minister, Sir Thomas DAVIS composed the anthem; his wife, a tribal chief, wrote the lyrics

National heritage

Cook Islands - Economy 2023
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Economy overview: high-income self-governing New Zealand territorial economy; tourism-based activity but diversifying; severely curtailed by COVID-19 pandemic; copra and tropical fruit exporter; Asian Development Bank aid recipient

Real gdp purchasing power parity:
$266 million (2022 est.)
$257 million (2021 est.)
$287 million (2020 est.)

Note: data are in 2015 dollars

Real gdp growth rate:
10.5% (2022 est.)
-24.5% (2021 est.)
-5.2% (2020 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 5.1% (2010 est.)
Industry: 12.7% (2010 est.)
Services: 82.1% (2010 est.)

Agriculture products

Industries: fishing, fruit processing, tourism, clothing, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate: 1% (2002)

Labor force: 6,820 (2001)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 13.1% (2005)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line: NA

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10%: NA
Highest 10%: NA

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $86.9 million (2010)
Expenditures: $77.9 million (2010)
Surplus  or deficit: 3% (of GDP) (2010 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues: 29% (of GDP) (2010 est.)


Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March

Current account balance: $26.67 million (2005)

Inflation rate consumer prices: 2.2% (2011 est.)

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance: $26.67 million (2005)

$31.4 million (2021 est.)
$3.125 million (2011 est.)
$5.163 million (2010 est.)

Note: Data are in current year dollars and do not include illicit exports or re-exports.
Partners: Japan 41%, France 18%, Thailand 16%, Greece 7%, China 6% (2021)
Commodities: fish products, recreational boats, paintings, lobsters, tuna (2021)

$215 million (2021 est.)
$109.3 million (2011 est.)
$90.62 million (2010 est.)

Partners: New Zealand 57%, Turkey 12%, Italy 11%, Israel 5%, Fiji 4% (2021)
Commodities: motorboats, refined petroleum, integrated circuits, lumber, cars, edible preparations, flavored water, beer (2021)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $141 million (1996 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates:
NZ dollars (NZD) per US dollar - 1.416 (2017 est.)
1.4341 (2016 est.)
1.4341 (2015 est.)
1.441 (2014 est.)
1.4279 (2013 est.)

Cook Islands - Energy 2023
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Electricity access

Electricity production

Electricity consumption: 38.729 million kWh (2019 est.)

Electricity exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

Electricity imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

Electricity installed generating capacity: 18,000 kW (2020 est.)

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources
Fossil fuels: 70% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Solar: 30% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Hydroelectricity: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)
Biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)
Refined petroleum consumption: 800 bbl/day (2019 est.)
Crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
Crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
Crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum
Products production: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Products exports: 0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Products imports: 611 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas
Production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)
Consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)
Exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)
Imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)
Proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions: 114,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)
From coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)
From petroleum and other liquids: 114,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)
From consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

Energy consumption per capita: 0 Btu/person (2019 est.)

Cook Islands - Communication 2023
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Telephones fixed lines
Total subscriptions: 7,000 (2021 est.)
Subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 41 (2021 est.)

Telephones mobile cellular
Total subscriptions: 17,000 (2021 est.)
Subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 100 (2021 est.)

Telephone system

Broadcast media: 1 privately owned TV station broadcasts from Rarotonga providing a mix of local news and overseas-sourced programs (2019)

Internet country code: .ck

Internet users
Total: 11,382 (2021 est.)
Percent of population: 64.8% (2021 est.)

Broadband fixed subscriptions
Total: 2,700 (2018 est.)
Subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15 (2018 est.)

Cook Islands - Military 2023
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Military expenditures

Military and security forces: no regular military forces; Cook Islands Police Service

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Cook Islands - Transportation 2023
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National air transport system
Number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
Inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 6

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix: E5

Airports: 11 (2021)
With paved runways: 1
With paved runways note: paved runways have a concrete or asphalt surface but not all have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control; the length of a runway required for aircraft to safely operate depends on a number of factors including the type of aircraft, the takeoff weight (including passengers, cargo, and fuel), engine types, flap settings, landing speed, elevation of the airport, and average maximum daily air temperature; paved runways can reach a length of 5,000 m (16,000 ft.), but the “typical” length of a commercial airline runway is between 2,500-4,000 m (8,000-13,000 ft.)
With unpaved runways: 10
With unpaved runways note: unpaved runways have a surface composition such as grass or packed earth and are most suited to the operation of light aircraft; unpaved runways are usually short, often less than 1,000 m (3,280 ft.) in length; airports with unpaved runways often lack facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control

Airports with paved runways: 1
Note: paved runways have a concrete or asphalt surface but not all have facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control; the length of a runway required for aircraft to safely operate depends on a number of factors including the type of aircraft, the takeoff weight (including passengers, cargo, and fuel), engine types, flap settings, landing speed, elevation of the airport, and average maximum daily air temperature; paved runways can reach a length of 5,000 m (16,000 ft.), but the “typical” length of a commercial airline runway is between 2,500-4,000 m (8,000-13,000 ft.)

Airports with unpaved runways: 10
Note: unpaved runways have a surface composition such as grass or packed earth and are most suited to the operation of light aircraft; unpaved runways are usually short, often less than 1,000 m (3,280 ft.) in length; airports with unpaved runways often lack facilities for refueling, maintenance, or air traffic control




Total: 295 km (2018)
Paved: 207 km (2018)
Unpaved: 88 km (2018)


Merchant marine
Total: 189 (2022)
By type: bulk carrier 20, general cargo 53, oil tanker 51, other 65

Ports and terminals
Major seaports: Avatiu

Cook Islands - Transnational issues 2023
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Disputes international: none

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs


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