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The Cook Islands are a group of 15 islands located in the South Pacific in the center of the Polynesian Triangle, with The Kingdom of Tonga and the Samoas to the west and Tahiti to the east. The Cook Islands are scattered throughout an exclusive economic zone of almost 2 million square kilometers, but have an actual land area of only 240 square kilometers (92.7 square miles). The total population of the Cook Islands is approximately 19,000. The 15 islands comprising the Cook Islands are divided into three groups by region. They include the High Cook Islands, Low Islands of the Southern group, and the Northern Cook Islands.
The international airport for the Cook Islands is located on the island of Rarotonga, the capital of the Cook Islands. All international flights arrive and depart from here. Airlines from both Australia and New Zealand fly into Rarotonga. Avarua, the main town and commercial center for the Cook Islands, is located on Rarotonga as well as the islands’ government and visitor’s centers.
The climate in the Cook Islands is primarily tropical and though they get rain, the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation wants visitors to know that their rainy season is a myth. Their winter falls between July and September with summer beginning in December, though the difference in temperatures between the seasons is only a few degrees.
Each island, including the outer islands, offers different experiences. There are daily flights scheduled for transportation to the Northern and Southern island groups. The culture of the people is warm and friendly, influenced by Polynesian history. The people of the Cook Islands express their way of life peacefully through music, song, and dance. Visitors to the islands often find themselves serenaded by the sound of ukuleles. There are also many festivals and cultural celebrations taking place throughout each year.
The Cook Islands gained valuable exposure after the 2006 filming of the 13th series of Survivor, the CBS reality show created by Mark Burnett. Tourism is a large business for the Cook Islands, especially on the main island of Rarotonga, where several hotels and resorts as well as restaurants, cafes, and markets are located.