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Cook Islands Government Profile 2014

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Country nameconventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cook Islands
former: Harvey Islands
Dependency statusself-governing in free association with New Zealand; Cook Islands is fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense in consultation with the Cook Islands
Government typeself-governing parliamentary democracy
Capitalname: Avarua
geographic coordinates: 21 12 S, 159 46 W
time difference: UTC-10 (5 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisionsnone
Affiliation(self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Independencenone (became self-governing in free association with New Zealand on 4 August 1965 and has the right at any time to move to full independence by unilateral action)
National holidayConstitution Day, first Monday in August (1965)
Constitutioneffective 4 August 1965 (Cook islands Constitution Act 1964); amended many times, last in 2004 (2004)
Legal systemcommon law similar to New Zealand common law
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration (New Zealand normally retains responsibility for external affairs); accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952) represented by Tom J. MARSTERS (since 9 August 2013); New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna KEMPKERS (since 19 July 2013)
head of government: Prime Minister Henry PUNA (since 30 November 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister; collectively responsible to Parliament
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; the UK representative appointed by the monarch; the New Zealand high commissioner appointed by the New Zealand Government; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition usually becomes prime minister
Legislative branchbicameral Parliament consists of a House of Ariki, or upper house, made up of traditional leaders and a Legislative Assembly, or lower house, (24 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
note: the House of Ariki advises on traditional matters and maintains considerable influence but has no legislative powers
elections: last held on 17 November 2010 (next to be held by 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CIP 16, Demo 8
Judicial branchhighest court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and 3 judges of the High Court); High Court (consists of the chief justice and at least 4 judges and organized into civil, criminal, and land divisions)
note - appeals beyond the Cook Islands Court of Appeal are brought before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
judge selection and term of office: High Court chief justice appointed by the Queen's Representative on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the prime minister; other judges appointed by the Queen's Representative, on the advice of the Executive Council tendered by the chief justice, High Court chief justice, and the minister of justice; chief justice and judges appointed for 3-year renewable terms
subordinate courts: justices of the peace
Political parties and leadersCook Islands Party or CIP [Henry PUNA]
Democratic Party or Demo [Dr. Terepai MAOATE]
Political pressure groups and leadersReform Conference (lobby for political system changes)
other: various groups lobbying for political change
International organization participationACP, ADB, AOSIS, FAO, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IMO, IMSO, IOC, ITUC (NGOs), OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the USnone (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Diplomatic representation from the USnone (self-governing in free association with New Zealand)
Flag descriptionblue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and a large circle of 15 white five-pointed stars (one for every island) centered in the outer half of the flag
National anthemname: "Te Atua Mou E" (To God Almighty)
lyrics/music: Tepaeru Te RITO/Thomas DAVIS
note: adopted 1982; as prime minister, Sir Thomas DAVIS composed the anthem; his wife, a tribal chief, wrote the lyrics

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on June 30, 2015