Cook Islands

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.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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