In the Maori language, the Cook Islands are called Kuki 'Airanii.
Each of the islands is a top of one or more dormant volcanoes. There are many more sunken volcanos in the Cook Islands. Skimming the ocean, you can sometimes see their craters rising just above the water.
There are 15 small islands, 13 of them are inhabited. They are spread over about 770,000 square miles (2,000,000 square km) of sea – an area nearly as large as Greenland!
Three quarters of its population live on the island of Rarotonga.
The islands have limited sources of water, so the islanders rely on a few wells and rainwater storage tanks.
The islanders are all New Zealand citizens, but they also have Cook Islands nationality.
About 100,000 visitors come to the islands every year. Tourism is the main industry, ahead of offshore banking. Pearls and fish are the major exports.
As a result of tourism and the influence of neighbouring nations, foreign culture has become part of daily life, but traditional ceremonies survive. One of them is the family celebration of a son’s first haircut – a rite of passage for young boys.
The Cook Islands first competed in the Commonwealth Games in 1974. They didn’t return until 1986. Since then, they have taken part in every Games.