Introduction Cook Islands,
island group (2006 pop. 19,569), 90 sq mi (234 sq km), S Pacific, SE of Samoa; a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. It consists of 15 small islands and is comprised of two main groups, the Southern (or Lower) Cook islands (Rarotonga
, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, Mauke, Mitiaro, and Manuae and Te-Au-o-tu) and the Northern Cook islands (Nassau, Palmerston, Penrhyn, Manihiki
, Rakahanga, Pukapuka, and Suwarrow). The islands were formerly called the Hervey Islands. Avarua
, on Rarotonga, is the capital and administrative center of the group. The southern half of the state's waters, an area encompassing some 411,000 sq mi (1.065 million sq km), were declared a marine park in 2012. The Cook Islanders are Maoris, a Polynesian people, and are largely Christians. English is the official language and Maori is also spoken.
Sections in this article:
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.