Trends in Human Population in the Cook Islands

In looking at larger scale trends in environmental quality, we have pulled together population data over time across the Cook Islands. This is the overall trend (summing across all 15 of the islands that comprise the Cook Islands):

Cook Islands Population (all islands merged)

Here is a bit more complicated graph wherein an island representing each of the temporal patterns we have seen is plotted.  We have seen some islands that have a declining population since record-keeping began (1901; Palmerston), islands that peaked in the 1950s (e.g. Mauke), the 1960s (e.g. Nassau), 1970s (e.g. Aitutaki & Atiu), and now (e.g. Rarotonga).          

Cook Islands Population Trends<br>representative islands


You can find the absolute population numbers below.
Cook Islands 1902-2011 Population
These data were all sourced from the 2011 Cook Island Census.

European appearance in the Cooks Islands

The first occurrence of Europeans on the Cook Islands was in 1595 on Pukapuka, one of the Northern Islands, then again in 1606 and thereafter. Although the most seemingly significant European visit was by Captain Cook in 1773, hence how the islands got their name – Cook Islands. Before his appearance the islands were generally called Manihiki Islands: he endowed his name within the southern islands. Throughout time missionaries brought with them many diseases although the culture and traditions were less influenced and less removed, according to current research, than many other places throughout history. The objective was self-sufficiency for the island but this goal had never been fully accomplished due to a number of reasons (although maybe from the islanders original perspective they found themselves to be self-sufficient?) Nowadays, the islanders govern internal affairs, but defense and foreign policy are in New Zealand’s hands. Interesting how throughout time things change so deeply! Check the map!ctc_01_img0271

Some history

After I got over the shock of getting accepted to go on this amazing trip I first started to look at the history of the islands. I found it interesting that the British captain whose name was James Cook, that found the islands in 1773 named the group of islands Hervey Islands. It didn’t get the name Cook Islands until the 1820’s when that name came up in a Russian naval chart! Crazy how things happen isn’t it? 🙂