Self-governing state 'in free association' with New Zealand. (New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs.) Gained self-governing status in 1965.
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented locally by Sir Frederick Goodwin. New Zealand is represented locally by High Commissioner Tia Barrett since 2008.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Jim Marurai since 2004.
220 volts DC, 50Hz. The New Zealand and Australian three-pin plug is used as standard, but, in some cases, a two-pin plug is required.
Find lazy days dripping with sunshine in the tranquil Cook Islands: 15 sandy freckles in the South Pacific. There are no two ways about it - people come to the Cook Islands for the beaches: pristine, powdery ribbons, lapped by fittingly sparkling waters. For those eager to dive straight in, the Cook Islands' best beaches are at Muri Lagoon and Titikaveka.
Despite covering a vast area, the Cook Islands host a tiny population, and secluded spots are easy to come by. Some islands, such as Rarotonga (where the international airport is situated) and Aitutaki, do feature a number of developed resorts. Mountainous Rarotonga also offers plenty of verdant scenery, should you (unlikely though it is) grow tired of tropical beach paradise.