Cook Islands History

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Cook Islands


The Cook Islands is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands whose total land area is 92.7 sq miles. New Zealand is responsible for the Cook Islands defence and foreign affairs, but they are exercised in consultation with the Cook Islands. In recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand, they have the status of Cook Islands nationals, which is not given to other New Zealand citizens.

The Cook Islands' main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga where there is an international airport. There is a larger population of Cook Islanders in New Zealand itself; in the 2013 census, 61,839 people said they were Cook Islanders, or of Cook Islands descent.

With about 100,000 visitors travelling to the islands in the 2010–11 financial year, tourism is the country's main industry, and the leading element of the economy, ahead of offshore banking, pearls, and marine and fruit exports.


1606 - The first recorded European landing in the islands
1821 - The islands saw no more Europeans until missionaries arrived from England
1888 - The Cook Islands became a British protectorate
1900 - Seven instruments of cession of Rarotonga and other islands were signed by their chiefs and people and by a British Proclamation issued at the same time the cessions were the islands being declared parts of Her Britannic Majesty's dominions
1901 - The islands were included within the boundaries of the Colony of New Zealand under the Colonial Boundaries Act, 1895 of the United Kingdom. The boundary change became effective on 11 June 1901 and the Cook Islands have had a formal relationship with New Zealand ever since
1948 - 1949 When the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act came into effect on 1 January 1949, Cook Islanders who were British subjects gained New Zealand citizenship
1965 - The country remained a New Zealand dependent territory until 1965, when the New Zealand Government decided to offer self-governing status to its colony