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Cook Islands History
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Cook Islands History

First people that discovered the Cook Islands were the Polynesians as apart of their migration that settled in the South Pacific in A.D. 1200. Captain James Cook later stumbled onto some of the islands during his voyages in 1773 and 1777. Cook named these islands the Hervey Islands. It was in 1824 that a Russian cartographer changed the name of the islands to the Cook Islands. Feudal chiefs, known as ariki, ruled the islands. The ariki owned all the land

within their jurisdiction and had complete power over their subjects. The Polynesians believed in hierarchy of gods and spirit. One god they valued was Tangaroa. Nowadays it is a well endowed carved image found in any handcraft store on the island.

Rev. John Williams of the London Missionary Society brought Christianity to the Cook Islands. About 60% of all Cook Islanders belonged to the Christian Church during the 1800’s. During the late 1800’s the Cook Islands were caught up in a wave of colonial expansion that swept across the South Pacific. The French, who had established Tahiti as a protectorate, wanted to expand their influence west, and in 1888 they sent a warship to Manihiki in what is now the Northern Group of the Cooks. Although the British had made no claim to the islands, locals quickly sewed together a Union Jack and ran it up a pole. The French ship turned away. Shortly thereafter the British declared a protectorate over the Cook Islands, and the Union Jack went up officially.

The islands were small and unproductive, and in 1901 Britain gladly consented to a request from the New Zealand's Prime Minister, Richard Seddon, to include the Cook Islands within the boundaries of his newly independent country. In addition to engineering the transfer, Seddon is best remembered for his policy of prohibiting the Chinese, and most other Asians from settling in the Cooks.

Everything began to change for the Cook Islands in 1965, when the islands became self governing in association with New Zealand. The first prime minister of the newly independent government was Sir Albert Henry. For the first time the Cook Islands became an international tourist destination. Although Sir Albert lost the national elections in 1978 and was later indicted for bribery, he remained highly popular. Nowadays the Cook Islands have a booming economy, with tourism reaching record high numbers. The Cook Islands are building more resorts, motels, and bungalows to attract people from all over the world to share their culture, and beauty of the islands.

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Cook Islands Travel Guides
 Frommer's Cook Islands
 Lonely Planet Cook Islands
 Let's Go Cook Islands
 Fodors Cook Islands