Cook Islands Geography and Climate

It is heard from the name that it was Captain James Cook who discovered them in 1773 and 1777, but the Cook Islands did not get their name from Cook. He called them the Hervey Islands. It was much later that the islands were given their name in honor of Cook. The Cook Islands are a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean about 3,000 km northeast of New Zealand and consisting of 15 different islands. Since 1965, it is in so-called free association with New Zealand just like Niue Island. Those who live on these islands speak English and a Maori dialect called Rarotongan. The main island is called Rarotonga and here is the capital Avarua. Most people live on the islands to the south and it is also here that many tourists come to enjoy the tropical climate.

A little history

It is believed that the Cook Islands were first inhabited in the 5th century by Polynesian peoples who came from Tahiti. Tahiti is an island located northeast of the Cook Islands. During the 16th century, Spanish ships came to the islands, but it was a Portuguese captain who, on behalf of the Spanish royal family, first landed in 1606. He landed on the island of Rakahanga and he called it Gente Hermosa, which means “beautiful people”.

At the end of the 19th century, the islands became a British protectorate and this was largely due to the fear that France would occupy the islands just as they had done with Tahiti. In 1901, New Zealand decided to seize the islands despite the Cook Islands leaders not being interested. The country remained a New Zealand protectorate until 1965 when the New Zealand government decided to offer the colony autonomy.

On June 11, 1980, the Cook Islands entered into an agreement with the United States on where to draw the border between the islands and American Samoa, and at the same time they withdrew from the claims on the islands of Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Manihiki and Rakahanga. In 1990, an agreement was signed with France limiting the demarcation between the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. When it got hot between the USA and China in the South China Sea, it was even noticed on the Cook Islands which are not so close.

Geography and climate

The Cook Islands can be divided into two main groups, one in the south and one in the north. In the south there are nine islands, most of which have a volcanic origin. It is in this archipelago that most people live. The northern archipelago consists of six coral atolls, which are volcanoes that have sunk and are then adorned with corals. According to bridgat, the islands have a tropical climate that is humid and hot.

In the southern archipelago are the islands of Nga-pu-Toru, Atiu, Ma’uke, Mitiaro and Takutea. In the northern archipelago are the islands of Manihiki, Nassau, Penrhyn Island, Pukapuka, Rakahanga, Suwarrow and Tema Reef which have sunk into the sea. There are more islands belonging to the Cook Islands and among these we find Aitutaki, Mangaia, Rarotonga where the capital Avurua is located, Palmerston island, Manuae and another reef that has sunk below the surface and is called the Winslow reef.


The country’s economy is strongly influenced by its geography. You are fairly isolated from other countries and markets and in addition there are shortcomings in the infrastructure. Tourism is the most important industry in the country and you get financial assistance, mainly from New Zealand. The Cook Islands are working to develop agriculture and fishing, but so far this has not gone so well. Something that is also problematic for the economy are the natural disasters that occur at regular intervals.

Cook Islands Geography