The Cook Islands (Cook Islands Maori: Kūki 'Āirani) are a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand. The 15 small islands in this South Pacific Ocean have a total land area of 240 square kilometres (92.7 sq. mi).
Tourism is the country's number one industry, the leading element of the economy, far ahead of offshore banking, pearls, marine and fruit exports. A popular art form on the islands is tivaivai, often likened to quilting.
Defence is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request. The Cook Islands has adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy, particularly after the adoption of an isolationist and non-aligned policy by New Zealand in the 1980s.