Your guide to being an expatriate in Cook Islands

Caffeinate Your Cook Islands Expat Journey: Find Essential Info and Connect with Expatriates Today!

The Cook Islands is a paradise archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 15 islands spread across 2 million square kilometers of ocean. Known for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and vibrant culture, the Cook Islands offer a unique blend of adventure, relaxation, and enrichment for visitors and expats alike. The Cook Islands have a diverse population of over 18,000 people, with an estimated 3,000 expats residing here. These individuals hail from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including Polynesian, European, and Asian. In addition to its natural beauty, the Cook Islands boast a stable political system and a thriving economy, which, together with its strategic location, make it an enticing destination for investors and businesses seeking opportunities in the Pacific region.

Cook Islands

Expat destinations in Cook Islands

Demographics of Cook Islands:

Ethnic groups

  • Pacific Islander (Cook Islands Polynesian) 82.5%
  • European and Cook Islander Combined 15.5%
  • Asian 1.2%
  • Other 0.8%


  • Cook Islands Māori
  • English

Religion Overview

The Cook Islands' predominant religion is Christianity, which is widely practiced by over 98% of the population. Religious institutions play a significant role in cultural and social life, with many churches and evangelical organizations active on the islands. Some of the major Christian denominations found in the Cook Islands include Christian Congregational Church (CIC), Assemblies of God, Seventh-day Adventists, Cook Islands Christian Church (CICC), Pentecostal, and Baptist.

Major Religions


The Cook Islands' tropical climate consists of a wet season from November to April and a dry season from May to October. The average temperature ranges from 25°C to 29°C throughout the year.

Economy Overview

The Cook Islands' economy is primarily driven by tourism, which accounts for approximately 60% of gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment for around 65% of the labor force. In addition, fishing and agriculture are significant contributors to the economy, with exports primarily consisting of coconuts, vanilla, and fresh produce. Recent efforts have focused on promoting sustainable tourism, improving the crippled fishing industry, and mitigating the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity. The Cook Islands is a member of several regional economic integrated organizations, including the Pacific Islands Forum, the Pacific Fisheries Organization, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program.

Key Industries

  • Tourism
  • Fishing
  • Agriculture

Major Companies

  • Cook Islands Tourism Corporation (CITC)
  • National Provident Fund
  • Bank of Baroda (Cook Islands) Ltd

Culture and Language Overview

The Cook Islands' rich cultural heritage is a fusion of Polynesian, European, and Melanesian influences. The Cook Islands' official languages are Māori, also known as Cook Islands Māori, and English, both of which are widely spoken. However, a distinct regional English with a unique vocabulary is commonly used in everyday life on the eastern islands of the group. Cultural events and festivals, such as Te Maevarumbu Heiva I Rarotonga (Toronto Stone Day Hiva Festival) and Raro Roo Ri Kairere and Roi Vaikiri (International Music and Dance Festival), celebrating traditional Polynesian dance and music, are a vital part of Cook Islands culture. The annual Queen's Birthday Celebrations and Christmas Island Invitational Charles Rowlinson Cup (CRC) cricket tournament are also significant events.

Cultural Highlights

  • Cook Islands Māori language and culture
  • Traditional Cook Islands dance and music
  • Annual Queen's Birthday Celebrations
  • Christmas Island Invitational Charles Rowlinson Cup (CRC) cricket tournament
  • Te Maeva Group Dance Festival
  • Raro Roo Ri Kairerei and Roi Vaikiri (International Music and Dance Festival)

Geography and Landmarks Overview

The Cook Islands are dispersed across the South Pacific Ocean, with no two islands closer than 14 km. The archipelago comprises 15 islands, divided into three island groups: Northern, Central, and Southern Cook Islands. The most populous island is Rarotonga, while Aitutaki is known for its beautiful lagoon. The Cook Islands is home to various unique landmarks and natural wonders, such as the Botanical Garden, Muri Beach, Aroa Beach, Black Rock, and Trader Jack's Coconut Gardens. Other notable landmarks include Mā'u Church, high chiefly tombs, and Te Rua Māhū, the southernmost point in the Cook Islands.

Notable Landmarks

  • Botanical Garden
  • Muri Beach
  • Aroa Beach
  • Black Rock
  • Trader Jack's Coconut Gardens
  • Mā'u Church
  • High chiefly tombs
  • Te Rua Māhū (Southernmost Point)

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Cook Islands' Independence Day (August 4)
  • Battle Day (August 25)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)
  • Te Maeva (August 10)

Political Stability

The Cook Islands is a constitutional parliamentary democracy with a Westminster-style government. The Prime Minister of the Cook Islands is the head of government and is assisted by an Executive Council and Cabinet. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament, the Cook Islands Parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive, with a independent Judicary Service Commission tasked with appointing judges. The Cook Islands' independent judiciary ensures the fair implementation of laws, and any violations of human rights or civil liberties are addressed through established legal processes. The Cook Islands are stable politically, with peaceful transfers of power in recent years.

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