|Government||Self-governing parliamentary democracy|
|Currency||New Zealand dollar (NZD)|
|Area||240 sq km|
|Population||21,388 (July 2006 est.)|
|Language||English (official), Maori|
|Electricity||240V/50Hz (Australian plug)|
The Cook Islands are a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand, located in Polynesia, in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, between French Polynesia (Society Islands) to the east and Tonga to the west. It is an archipelago with 15 islands spread out over 2.2 million sq. km of ocean. Though quite far, there's no land between the Cook Islands and Antarctica.
With the same time zone and latitude (disregarding north and south) as Hawaii, the islands are sometimes thought of as "Hawaii down under". Though smaller, it reminds some elderly visitors of Hawaii before statehood without all the large tourist hotels and other development.