Cook Islands

Flag of Cook Islands

Flag of Cook Islands

Hawksbill turtle eating seaweed

Hawksbill turtle eating seaweed





Country Cook Islands– named after Captain James Cook who landed there in 1773  – total area of 92.7 square miles (Link to map of Cook Islands location. Link to map of Rarotonga, largest island of Cook Islands.)

Their flag has 15 white 5-pointed stars, one for each island

Continent Oceania – an archipelago – a group of 15 islands halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, lying between American Samoa and Tahiti
Capital Avarua – which is located on the largest island Rarotongo – is known for its white coral churches
Population Settled in 6th century by Polynesians

81% are full-blooded Polynesian, 2%  European, rest are a mixture

Population is declining so there are more Cook Islanders in New Zealand than in the islands – all are citizens of New Zealand

Language English – Maori also called  Ranotongan
Religion Almost all are Christian – 70% belong to Protestant CI Christian Church, and 30% are Roman Catholic, 7th Day Adventist and Mormon

Sermons are in Maori and singing is a big part of the service

Terrain Northern islands are atolls – sunken volcanoes topped by coral growth

Southern islands are volcanic in origin

Climate is moderate to tropical

Sports Rugby union, bowling, netball, football

Wood carving is popular

Animals There are several species of birds, but few native plants and animals.

The Pacific fruit bat is the only indigenous mammal

Facts of Interest In 1888 the British declared the islands as a protectorate, but they gained the right to self- government in 1965.  Their defense remains under the control of New Zealand

Sea cucumbers and fish are eaten both raw and cooked

Coconut water is a popular beverage

Society is divided into family clans.  Rarotonga has 6 clans which were established centuries ago when the Maoris first settled on the island and divided the land.

Women are in charge of family finances and oversee the land.

Domestic violence against women is punished severely.

Concerns Economic development is hampered by geographic isolation, lack of natural resources, and natural disasters.

Economic growth is in tourism, off-shore banking, pearls and the mining and fishing industries and fruit processing

Mission Missionaries brought schools, Christianity and developed a written language as well as decimated the population by introducing diseases such as whooping cough, measles and smallpox