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Niue: a raised coral atoll in the Pacific

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Niue, is a raised coral atoll, among the largest in the world (260 sq km), located in the southern Pacific Ocean east of the Tonga islands, south of Samoa and west of the Cook Islands. Niue is a territory freely associated with New Zealand. The capital is the village of Alofi located along the west coast of the island. The island which is surrounded by the coral reef is formed along the coast by steep cliffs, with numerous caves and limestone cavities, and by a central plateau, which rises up to 68 meters above sea level.


The economy of the island of Niue is based on agriculture – in particular on the cultivation of coconut palm and taro – and on fishing. A huge uranium deposit seemed to have been recently discovered, but more accurate research has shown that the first prospects were wrong. It is developing tourism that the government tries to develop as a new source of income. The island has an airport that has air links to Auckland in New Zealand.

Inhabited by a Polynesian population since 900 AD, the island of Niue was discovered in 1774 by the famous English captain James Cook who called it “Savage island” due to the harsh reaction of the inhabitants to his attempt to land.

Subsequently, in the mid-nineteenth century, missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived on the island and spread Christianity. Today, in fact, all the inhabitants of the island profess this religion.

It was not until the early 20th century that Niue Island first became an English protectorate and then was annexed to the English colony of New Zealand. Niue gained its autonomy in 1974 as a state in free association with New Zealand.

The official page of the Niue government.

  • Area: 260 sqkm. (Arable 27%, Pastures 4%, Forests and Woodlands 19%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 50%)
  • Population: 1,600 (2007 data) (Polinesians 85%, Europeans15%).
  • State Capital: Alofi.
  • Languages: Official languages are English and Niuean.
  • Religion: Christian 99% (Congregationalist 75%, Mormon 10%).
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
  • Time: UTC -11 hours.



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