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THE COOK ISLANDS
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OVERVIEW  The country is actually 15 SEPARATE ISLANDS, two of which are uninhabited.They're spread across 2.2 million square kilometres of the South Pacific Ocean and 1,433 kms separate the most northerly from the most southerly. ONLY 9 ARE ACCESSIBLE BY AIR and sea travel to the rest is erratic. Just over 17,000 people live in the Islands. ENGLISH AND COOK ISLANDS MAORI ARE THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES. The CURRENCY IS THE NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR although the Islands have their own distinctive coins and notes which circulate alongside and are of equal value. PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY is based on the UK model and HM The Queen (Queen Elizabeeth II)  is Head of State, although the Islands are an independent nation with special links to New Zealand. The CLIMATE IS TROPICAL TO SUB-TROPICAL with highs of 25-29C
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RAROTONGA  The capital island of Rarotonga is the commercial and administrative centre and the MOST VISITED. 13,000 people live there. It's THE ONLY ISLAND SERVED BY INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS. It's the LARGEST OF THE COOK ISLANDS and THE MOST COMMERCIALISED, but it still retains a Polynesian charm. The Island is just 30 kms in circumference and a local bus service goes all the way around stopping wherever you want it to. MURI IS THE MAIN RESORT AREA. There are no big name shops or famous name fast food outlets. The centre of the island is a series of magnificent mountain ridges and peaks.   
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AITUTAKI AND THE OUTER ISLANDS  AITUTAKI is the second most visited island, the easiest to get to from Rarotonga and if you can't manage a stay, the Air Rarotonga day trip is a must. It includes an unforgettable lagoon cruise and snorkelling. ATIU, MAUKE, MITIARO AND MANGAI are less than an hour's flying time from Raro but you need to spend at least one night there because of the flight schedules. Tourism is still in its infancy and visitors are warmly welcomed.  Getting to THE REST OF THE ISLANDS is very expensive and boat services to those without airstrips are few and far between
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SEE AND DO You can WATCH WHALES from the shore, SWIM, DIVE OR SNORKEL among fish and rare turtles on pristine reefs, EXPLORE by bike or bus, WATCH OR JOIN IN some unique events, DISCOVER the cultural traditions,  TREK the interior, take home distinctive SOUVENIRS or maybe have your WEDDING in paradise
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