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Total Land Area: 258 km2
Number of Islands: 1
Languages: Niuean and English
Political Status:Self-governing territory in association with New Zealand
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
Head of Government: Young Vivian
Currency: New Zealand Dollar
Niue is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia”. Though self governing, Niue is in free association with New Zealand, and lacks full sovereignty. Queen Elizabeth II is Niue's head of state. Niue’s currency is the New Zealand dollar.
Captain James Cook landed on the island in June 1774 and called it Savage Island after having encountered a rather hostile reception. The first missionaries arrived in 1830 and by 1854 virtually the entire population of the island had been converted to Christianity. Presently 75 percent of the population of Niue belong to the Ekalesia Nieue (a national Congregationalist body), while most of the rest are Latter-day Saints. 1.5 percent of the population are Baha'i.
Niue is the world’s largest emerged coral atoll, a saucer shaped island made from the basement of an isolated volcanic cone, 64 km's in circumference with an area of 269 sq. km's. The entire population of about 1500 people who are predominantly Polynesian, live in only 14 widely dispersed villages. The rest of the island comprises virgin rainforest and farmland.
Commercial fishing is a growing industry, as are some high value crops like vanilla and nonu (fruit), which both grow well there and fetch high prices on the world market. A few cash crops such as taro, lime and passion fruit are also grown for export.
The name ‘Niue’ translates as ‘Behold! The coconut!', a reference to the fact that this rocky island could sustain the coconut palm, thereby making it a land worth inhabiting. Polynesians benefit immensely from this plant and have ingeniously evolved innumerable uses of it.
Unlike Niue’s neighbours, it avoided adapting the traditional Polynesian power hierarchy of priests and chiefs, and instead, relied on family or clan based units united under a ‘democratically’ elected monarch. This made Niueans very independent, both of each other and from their neighbours, and they remain so today.
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