Cook Islands

Basic Data

Cook Islands

Official Country Name: Cook Islands
Region (Map name): Oceania
Population: 20,407

Cook Islands

Language(s): English, Maori
Literacy rate: N/A

The Cook Islands, named after the British naval captain who first sighted them in 1770, are located in the south Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and New Zealand.

The Cook Islands enjoy freedom of the press and freedom of speech. A Cook Islands Media Council, based on the Australian and New Zealand model of press self-regulation, operated between 1995 and 1999 to respond to a perceived threat of government regulation. When the threat passed, the council disbanded. No formal council currently exists, but proposals surface periodically to revive the model.

The country supports two main English-language newspapers: the daily Cook Islands News and the weekly Cook Islands Herald . The Cook Islands News began in 1944 as a one-page news sheet and was developed in the late 1960s as a government-owned publication. It was privatized in 1989 and is the country's largest independent newspaper, publishing Monday through Saturday. Its estimated print run is 2,000; its online edition, which is updated every Wednesday, contains selected stories from the print edition. The Cook Islands Herald , which is published every Wednesday, started in 1997 as a guide to television programming but it adopted a newspaper format in 2000. Its estimated print run is 1,300, and it maintains an online edition.

There are three radio stations in the country, one AM and two FM. Radios number approximately 14,000. Two local television stations broadcast to approximately 4,000 televisions. There are three Internet service providers.

The island chain consists of seven sparsely populated coral atolls and eight volcanic islands. The country became a British protectorate in 1888, but administrative control had been transferred to New Zealand by 1900. In 1965 Cook Islanders chose self-government in association with New Zealand, meaning islanders are responsible for their internal affairs through a parliamentary democracy, and New Zealand takes care of external affairs in consultation with island government. The estimated population is 20,600, and the literacy rate is 95 percent. The country's economy is based on agriculture, but fruit processing and tourism are also important. The official language is English, but Maori and Pukapukan are also spoken.


Australian Press Council. Country Profile—Cook Islands . 2002. Available from .

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Fact Book 2001 . Available from .

Cook Islands News . Retrieved May 31, 2002. Available from .

Jenny B. Davis

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