Background

Niue’s remoteness, as well as cultural and linguistic differences between its Polynesian inhabitants and those of the adjacent Cook Islands, has caused it to be separately administered by New Zealand. The population of the island continues to drop (from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to an estimated 1,190 in 2014) with substantial emigration to New Zealand 2,400 km to the southwest.

Geography

Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga. Area 260 sq km. Coastline: 64 km

Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm, exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds

Terrain: steep limestone cliffs along coast, central plateau

Elevation, highest point: unnamed elevation near Mutalau settlement 68 m

Natural resources: fish, arable land

Land use – agricultural land 19.1% (arable land 3.8%; permanent crops 11.5%; permanent pasture 3.8%), forest 71.2%

Natural hazards: typhoons

Environment – current issues: increasing attention to conservationist practices to counter loss of soil fertility from traditional slash and burn agriculture

International agreements – party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection

Geography note: one of world’s largest coral islands

People and Society

Nationality: noun, Niuean(s)

Ethnic groups: Niuen 66.5%, part-Niuen 13.4%, non-Niuen 20.1% (includes 12% European and Asian and 8% Pacific Islanders) (2011 est.)

Languages: Niuean (official) 46% (a Polynesian language closely related to Tongan and Samoan), Niuean and English 32%, English (official) 11%, Niuean and others 5%, other 6% (2011 est.)

Religions: Ekalesia Niue (Congregational Christian Church of Niue – a Protestant church founded by missionaries from the London Missionary Society) 67%, other Protestant 3% (includes Seventh Day Adventist 1%, Presbyterian 1%, and Methodist 1%), Mormon 10%, Roman Catholic 10%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 2%, other 6%, none 2% (2011 est.)

Population: 1,190 (July 2014 est.)

Population growth rate: -0.03% (2014 est.)

Urbanization: urban population: 42.5% of total population (2015), rate of urbanization: -0.94% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population: ALOFI (capital) 1,000 (2014)

Sex ratio: Physicians density, 3 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Drinking water source: improved 98.5% of population. Unimproved 1.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access: improved, urban: 100% of population, rural: 100% of population

Government

Country name Niue – pronunciation falls between nyu-way and new-way, but not like new-wee. Former: Savage Island

Etymology: the origin of the name is obscure; in Niuean, the word supposedly translates as “behold the coconut”

Dependency status: self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1974; Niue fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense; however, these responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Government of Niue

Government: self-governing parliamentary democracy

Capital: Alofi, geographic coordinates: 19 01 S, 169 55 W

Time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions: none; note – there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 14 villages at the second order

Independence: 19 October 1974 (Niue became a self-governing parliamentary government in free association with New Zealand)

National holiday: Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840)

Constitution: several previous (New Zealand colonial statutes); latest 19 October 1974 (Niue Constitution Act 1974); amended 1992, 2007 (2015)

Legal system: English common law

Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General of New Zealand Lt. Gen. Sir Jerry MATEPARAE (since 31 August 2011); the UK and New Zealand are represented by New Zealand High Commissioner Ross ARDEN (since February 2014)

Head of government: Premier Toke TALAGI (since 18 June 2008). Cabinet chosen by the premier

Elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; premier indirectly elected by the Legislative Assembly for a 3-year term; election last held on 24 April 2014 (next to be held in 2017)

Election results: Toke TALAGI reelected premier; Legislative Assembly vote – Toke TALAGI (independent) 12, Stanley KALAUNI 8

Legislative branch: description: unicameral Assembly or Fono Ekepule (20 seats; 14 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 6 directly elected from the National Register or “common roll” by majority vote; members serve 3-year terms)

Judicial branch: highest resident court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the chief justice and up to 3 judges); note – the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London) is the final appeal court beyond the Niue Court of Appeal

Niue is a participant in the Pacific Judicial Development Program; the program is designed to build governance and the rule of law in 15 Pacific island countries

Judge selection and term of office: Niue chief justice appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the Cabinet and tendered by the premier; other judges appointed by the governor-general on the advice of the Cabinet and tendered by the chief justice and the minister of justice; judges serve until age 68

Subordinate courts: High Court

Political parties and leaders: Alliance of Independents or AI, Niue People’s Action Party or NPP [Young VIVIAN], Political pressure groups and leaders: NA

International organization participation: ACP, AOSIS, FAO, IFAD, OPCW, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

National symbol(s): yellow, five-pointed star; national color: yellow. National anthem: Ko e Iki he Lagi (the Lord in Heaven)

Economy

The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population. The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. Industry consists primarily of small factories to process passion fruit, lime oil, honey, and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue.

Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that are used to pay wages to public employees. Economic aid allocation from New Zealand in FY13/14 was US$10.1 million. Niue has cut government expenditures by reducing the public service by almost half.

The island in recent years has suffered a serious loss of population because of emigration to New Zealand. Efforts to increase GDP include the promotion of tourism and financial services, although the International Banking Repeal Act of 2002 resulted in the termination of all offshore banking licenses.

Agriculture – products: coconuts, passion fruit, honey, limes, taro, yams, cassava (manioc, tapioca), sweet potatoes; pigs, poultry, beef cattle

Industries: handicrafts, food processing

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4% (2005)

Exports – commodities: canned coconut cream, copra, honey, vanilla, passion fruit products, pawpaws, root crops, limes, footballs, stamps, handicrafts

Imports – commodities: food, live animals, manufactured goods, machinery, fuels, lubricants, chemicals, drugs

Currency: New Zealand dollars (NZD)

Energy – Electricity: 240V Australian plug-in Type

Communications – Telephone system: domestic: single-line telephone system connects all villages on island, international: country code – 683 (2001)

Broadcast media: 1 government-owned TV station with many of the programs supplied by Television New Zealand; 1 government-owned radio station broadcasting in AM and FM (2009)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Internet country code: .nu

Internet users: percent of population: 92.4% (2014 est.)

Transportation – Airports: 1 (2013), plus 1 with unpaved runways

Roadways: total 120 km

Ports and terminals: major seaport(s) is Alofi

Military and Security – no regular indigenous military forces; Police Forcedefense is the responsibility of New Zealand