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Information Overview Cook Islands (Rarotonga)
The Cook Islands are
made up of fifteen small islands located in the South Pacific Ocean and have a
total land area of approximately 240 square kilometres.
The Cook Islands lie north-east of New Zealand, between French Polynesia and Fiji and were first settled in the 6th century AD by Polynesian people, who migrated from Tahiti. Nowadays, the population is just under 20,000, although many more Cook Islanders live in New Zealand.
There are fifteen major islands in the Cook Islands, which are divided into two distinct groups of coral atolls: the Southern Cook Islands and the Northern Cook Islands.
The Southern Cook Islands are made from mainly volcanic activity, they are quite hilly and have more vegetation and wildlife.
The Cook Islands are very popular as they offer a range of things to do for the whole family.
The majority of the population lives in the Southern group, while the Northern Cook Islands group consists of flat coral atolls which are sparsly populated. An atoll is a sunken volcano topped with coral growth.
Cook Island Culture
Moulded by a Polynesian heritage mixed with a European influence, The Cook Island culture is mystical. With their own unique identity, the people of the Cook Islands are born of the sea. Cook Island culture is shrouded in traditions and legends passed down through the generations.
Family is most important and everyone is connected to the tribal chiefs (ariki). Land and title inheritance also come from the same gene pool. Although fun-loving and friendly, Cook Islanders, like Tahitians and other Polynesians, are a conservative and generally religious people who cleave to their customary way of life and culture. They do not fit the ill-founded Western myth that they are loose-living hedonists of easy morals.
The beauty and charm of the Cook Islands is matched by the friendliness of the people. There is an outgoing spirit of celebration embedded in Cook Island culture.
Cook Islands Language
Today the Cook Islands use three languages: Maori, English and Pukapukan. Each of the Cook Islands has its own distinct dialect of Maori while the islands of Pukapuka and Nassau speak Pukapukan.
Most southern group Cook Islanders cancommunicate with those from the northern group. Most Cook Islanders also speak English, making it an ideal destination for English-speaking visitors.
English has been the official language of the Cook Islands since 1915. Today, most Cook Islanders are bi-lingual and switch easily between Maori and English, the challenge is making sure Maori is kept alive and active amongst young people.
Cook Island Flag
The Flag of the Cook Islands is based on the traditional design for former British colonies in the Pacific region. It is a blue ensign containing the Union Flag in the upper left, and on the right, fifteen stars in a ring. The Union Flag is symbolic of the nation's historic ties to the United Kingdom. The stars stand for the fifteen islands that make up the Cook Islands.
Rarotonga is the youngest island in the Cook Islands, and a popular holiday destination. Avarua, the main town of Rarotonga, is the capital of the Cook Islands.