Self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand. New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs.
Head of state:
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Queen's Representative Tom Marsters since 2013.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Henry Puna since 2010.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. The New Zealand and Australian plug with three flat blades (two angled in a V shape) is standard.
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.
The Cook Islands are about as far as you can get from the trouble spots of the world, and indiscriminate international terrorist attacks are highly unlikely here.
Dengue fever outbreaks occur from time to time, but the resorts are well fumigated and it's usually local residents rather than visitors who are impacted by this mosquito-borne disease. For government travel advisories, contact the following organisations: