Thursday, January 12, 2012

Niue [New Zealand]

The residents of the Pacific island of Niue are far outnumbered by their compatriots who have migrated to New Zealand.

Home to fewer than 2,000 islanders, the self-governing coral atoll is trying to encourage some of the 20,000 overseas Niueans - many of them New Zealand-born - to return.

Niue operates in free association with New Zealand, its main source of aid and its biggest trading partner. New Zealand is obliged under the island's constitution to provide "necessary economic and administrative assistance".

Aside from defence matters and foreign relations, Niue runs its own affairs. All Niueans are New Zealand citizens and can take up residency there.

The long-running population decline was aggravated by Cyclone Heta, which devastated the island in 2004. Some observers fear that the community's viability is threatened by migration.

Economic activity revolves around fishing, agriculture and tourism. Surrounded by a coral reef and with a rugged coastline, the island attracts whale-watchers, divers and yachting enthusiasts.

Technology-savvy Niue has embraced the internet. It earns money from the sale of its suffix and in 2003 it became the first territory to offer a free wireless internet service to all residents.

Lying between Tonga and the Cook Islands, Niue was settled by Samoans in the first century AD. Britain's Captain James Cook sighted the island in 1774, dubbing it "Savage Island" after locals thwarted his landing attempts.

British missionaries arrived in the 19th century and the island was subsequently administered from New Zealand. Niueans voted to become self-governing in 1974.

    * Territory: Niue
    * Status: Self-governing territory in free association with New Zealand.
    * Population: 1,761 (official figure, 2004)
    * Capital: Alofi
    * Area: 260 sq km (100 sq miles)
    * Major languages: Niuean, English
    * Major religion: Christianity
    * Life expectancy: 67 (men), 76 (women) (UN)
    * Monetary unit: 1 New Zealand dollar ($NZ) = 100 cents
    * Main exports: Root crops, coconuts, honey
    * GNI per capita: n/a
    * Internet domain: .nu
    * International dialling code: +683

Prime minister: Toke Talagi
Toke Talagi was elected in June 2008 to a serve a three-year term. He gained the backing of parliament for another term in May 2011.

Mr Talagi had previously served in the roles of deputy premier and finance minister. He is also president of the Niue Rugby Union.

Toke Talagi was chair of the regional inter-governmental organization, the Pacific Islands Forum from 2008 to 2009.

From : BBC News