Country Profiles



Named after Captain COOK, who sighted them in 1770, the islands became a British protectorate in 1888. By 1900, administrative control was transferred to New Zealand; in 1965, residents chose self-government in free association with New Zealand. The emigration of skilled workers to New Zealand, government deficits, and limited natural resources are of continuing concern.



Official Languages           

English, Cook Islands Māori


New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Cook Islands Dollar


Location: Oceania, group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand


Total: 240 sq km Land: 240 sq km Water: 0 sq km


Tropical oceanic; moderated by trade winds; a dry season from April to November and a more humid season from December to March
Natural resources:

Coconuts (Copra)

Land use

Agricultural land: 8.4% (Arable Land 4.2%; Permanent crops 4.2%; Permanent Pasture 0%)
Forest: 64.6% , Other: 27% (2011 est.)

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 sq km



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, employing more than one-quarter of the working population, provides the economic base with major exports of copra and citrus fruit. Black pearls are the Cook Islands' leading export. 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.

Agriculture Products

Copra, citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, beans, pawpaws, bananas, yams, taro, coffee; pigs, poultry


Fruit processing, tourism, fishing, clothing, handicrafts

Exports Commodities

Copra, papayas, fresh and canned citrus fruit, coffee; fish; pearls and pearl shells; clothing

Imports Commodities

Foodstuffs, textiles, fuels, timber, capital goods

Useful Links

The Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB)

Office of the Prime Minister, Cook Islands

Procurement Portal Cook Islands (PPCI)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration

Ministry of Agriculture  

Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM)


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