The Cook Islands poses to be a pleasant surprise for nature lovers. It is a not a very prominent existence in the world map but has proven its dominance as a popular South Pacific getaway. It has come up as the jewel of a tropical paradise that offers an excellent blend of adventure and relaxation. The Cook Islands provide some alluring experience and breathtaking views amidst the crystal clear turquoise waters and the sparkling white sand beaches. From the largest island of the Rarotonga to the small oval low piece of lands, visitors to this country are rewarded with natural beauty and rejuvenating sights at every corner and turns.
The Cook Islands is an unspoilt cluster of fifteen islands in the South Pacific Ocean. These islands of different shapes and sizes are cluttered over a land area of 240 sq km. The maritime area of the country includes nearly 2 million square kilometres. The Cook Islands are nestled between French Polynesia and Fiji and are also close to the state of New Zealand from other side of the globe. The islands fall into two distinct groups that are regarded as the Southern Group and the Northern Group. The Southern Group is most inhabited ones providing accommodation to 90% of the population. This part comprises of the islands of Rarotonga, Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Manuae, Mauke, Mitiaro, Palmerston and Takutea. Among these Rarotonga is the main and largest island, Takutea being the smallest. The terrain in this part of the Cook Islands is based on volcanic disposition. It is very fertile and supports lush vegetation. The six islands of the Northern Group are Manihiki, Nassau, Penrhyn, Pukapuka, Rakahanga and Suwarrow. These are remotely accessible and the topography is also rugged with low-lying coral atolls and large lagoons. Here the Penrhyn is the largest island while Suwarrow is the smallest with only 40 hectares of land area. The capital city of Avarua is a thriving administrative and commercial destination and has all modern facilities including the International Airport.
The climate of the Cook Islands is dependent on its global positioning and flaunts a typical oceanic climate with tropical features. There are two distinct seasons in the country with warmer months remaining from April to November. The rainfalls and humidity increases from December to March. The Cook Islands is also vulnerable to natural hazards like devastating tropical storms and even hurricanes. The people of the country are mostly Polynesian, Cook Island Maoris, related to the New Zealand Maoris and the Tahitians.
There are no clear historical timeline available for the Cook Islands but archaeological findings suggest that Rarotonga was inhabited nearly 1500 years ago. Many anthropologists believe that the first inhabitants may have originated in Peru and migrated to Malaya in "Asia Minor". The country came to be known to the outside world when Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana first sighted the island of Pukapuka in 1595. In 1824, the Russian cartographer Johann von Krusenstern named the southern group of islands the Cook Islands. New Zealand law took effect in 1901 but after pressure from the UN it relented. The Cook Islands became a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand on the 4th August 1965.
Offshore banking, marine resources and agriculture are the largest industries of the Cook Islands. However, it is tourism that works as the mainstay of the financial structure of the country.