Cook Islands: Background & Geography

Introduction Cook Islands
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 and government deficits are continuing problems.
Geography Cook Islands
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:
total: 240 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 240 sq km
Area - comparative:
1.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
120 km
Maritime claims - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; moderated by trade winds
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:
Land use:
arable land: 17.39%
permanent crops: 13.04%
other: 69.57% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
NA sq km
Natural hazards:
typhoons (November to March)
Environment - current issues:
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note:
the northern Cook Islands are seven low-lying, sparsely populated, coral atolls; the southern Cook Islands consist of eight elevated, fertile, volcanic isles where most of the populace lives

See Also: