The Cook Islands is located in the South Pacific Ocean due south of Hawaii. Named after captain James Cook, the English explorer, the country consists of 15 islands spread over 1 million square miles of ocean. The island of Rarotonga is the capital, and home to more than 60% of the population. English is the every day language.
Originally a colony of Britain, then New Zealand, the Cook Islands achieved independence in 1965. It is now a sovereign state with its own parliament, universal suffrage, and general elections every 4 years. All Cook Islanders hold dual New Zealand and Cook Islands nationality and the country continues to enjoy a special relationship with New Zealand.
The judicial system in the Cook Islands is highly regarded. The Court system is hierarchical, beginning with the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and a further and final right of appeal to the Privy Council in England. All High Court and Court of Appeal judges are senior experienced judges appointed from New Zealand.
The offshore financial services industry was established in the Cook Islands in 1981. In 1989 the Cook Islands became the first country to introduce asset protection laws and it remains the leading jurisdiction for asset protection trusts. This industry, and foreign trust administration in general, now dominates the financial centre.
The Cook Islands is in the same time zone as Hawaii making it particularly well placed for doing business with United States based clients. While the Cook Islands is geographically isolated it maintains excellent connections with the rest of the world.