(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)
|Introduction||Niue’s remoteness, as well as cultural and linguistic differences between its Polynesian inhabitants and those of the rest of the Cook Islands, have caused it to be separately administered. The population of the island continues to drop (from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to an estimated 1,492 in 2007), with substantial emigration to New Zealand, 2,400 km to the southwest.|
|History||Niue was first settled by Polynesian sailors from Samoa in around 900 AD. Further settlers (or invaders) arrived from Tonga in the 16th century.
Until the beginning of the eighteenth century, there appears to have been no national government or national leader in Niue. Before that time, chiefs and heads of family exercised authority over segments of the population. Around 1700, the concept and practice of kingship appears to have been introduced through contact with Samoa or Tonga. From then on, a succession of patu-iki (kings) ruled the island, the first of whom was Puni-mata. Tui-toga, who reigned from 1875 to 1887, was the first Christian king of Niue.
The first European to sight Niue was Captain James Cook in 1774. Cook made three attempts to land on the island but was refused permission to do so by the Polynesian inhabitants. He named the island “Savage Island” because, legend has it, the natives that “greeted” him were painted in what appeared to Cook and his crew to be blood. However, the substance on their teeth was that of the red banana and not blood.
For the next couple of centuries the island remained known as Savage Island, until its original name Niu ē (coconut behold) regained use. Yet its official name is still Niuē fekai (wild Niuē).
The next notable European visitors were from the London Missionary Society and arrived in 1846 on the “Messenger of Peace”. After many years of trying to land a European missionary on Niue, a Niuean named Nukai Peniamina was taken away and trained as a Pastor at the Malua Theological College in Samoa. Peniamina returned as a missionary with the help of Toimata Fakafitifonua. He was finally allowed to land in Uluvehi Mutalau after a number of attempts in other villages had failed. The Chiefs of Mutalau village allowed Peniamina to land and assigned over 60 warriors to protect him day and night at the fort in Fupiu. Christianity was first taught to the Mutalau people before it was spread to all the villages on Niue; originally, other major villages opposed the introduction of Christianity and had sought to kill Peniamina. The people from the village of Hakupu, although the last village to receive Christianity, came and asked for a “word of god”; hence their village was renamed “Ha Kupu Atua” meaning “any word of god”, or “Hakupu” for short.
In 1887, King Fata-a-iki, who reigned from 1887 to 1896, offered to cede sovereignty over his country to the British Empire, fearing the consequences of annexation by a less benevolent colonial power. The offer was not accepted until 1900.
Niue was a British protectorate for a time, but the UK’s involvement ended in 1901 when New Zealand annexed the island. Independence in the form of self-government was granted by the New Zealand parliament with the 1974 constitution. Robert Rex, CMG OBE (who was ethnically part European, part native) was appointed the country’s first Premier, a position he continued to hold through re-election until his death 18 years later. Rex became the first Niuean to receive knighthood in 1984.
In January 2004, Niue was hit by Cyclone Heta, which killed two people and caused extensive damage to the entire island, as well as wiping out most of the south of the capital, Alofi.
|Geography||Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga
Geographic coordinates: 19 02 S, 169 52 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 260 sq km
land: 260 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 64 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds
Terrain: steep limestone cliffs along coast, central plateau
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location near Mutalau settlement 68 m
Natural resources: fish, arable land
Land use: arable land: 11.54%
permanent crops: 15.38%
other: 73.08% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: typhoons
Environment – current issues: increasing attention to conservationist practices to counter loss of soil fertility from traditional slash and burn agriculture
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: one of world’s largest coral islands
|Politics||The Niue Constitution Act vests executive authority in Her Majesty the Queen in Right of New Zealand and the Governor-General of New Zealand. The Niue Constitution specifies that in everyday practice, sovereignty is exercised by the Niue Cabinet of Ministers of the Premier of Niue and three other ministers. The premier and ministers are members of the Niue Legislative Assembly, the nation’s parliament.
The assembly consists of twenty democratically elected members, fourteen of whom are elected by the electors of each village constituency. The remaining six are elected by all registered voters in all constituencies. Electors must be New Zealand citizens, resident for at least three months, and candidates must have been electors, and resident for twelve months. It is a requirement under law that anyone who was born in Niue must register on the electoral roll, however it is up to the elector whether to vote or not to vote on polling day. The candidates that have equal votes following the recount of votes, the winning candidate will be drawn out from the hat, this a legitimate and legal procedure. The Speaker is elected by the assembly and is the first official to be elected in the first sitting of the Legislative Assembly following an election. The new Speaker calls for nominations for the Premier; the candidate with the most votes from the twenty members is elected. The Premier then selects three other members to form the Cabinet of Ministers, the executive arm of government. The other two organs of government, following the Westminster model, are the Legislative Assembly and the Judiciary. Terms before new elections last three years, with the next election due on 7 June 2008 as part of the Niuean general election, 2008.
All Members of Parliament, past or present, are entitled to State Funerals. State Funerals may also be given as well to any distinguished individual offered the honour by the Premier and his Cabinet.
|People||Population: 1,444 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: NA
15-64 years: NA
65 years and over: NA
Population growth rate: -0.032% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: NA
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: NA (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Niuean(s)
Ethnic groups: Niuen 78.2%, Pacific islander 10.2%, European 4.5%, mixed 3.9%, Asian 0.2%, unspecified 3% (2001 census)
Religions: Ekalesia Niue (Niuean Church – a Protestant church closely related to the London Missionary Society) 61.1%, Latter-Day Saints 8.8%, Roman Catholic 7.2%, Jehovah’s Witnesses 2.4%, Seventh-Day Adventist 1.4%, other 8.4%, unspecified 8.7%, none 1.9% (2001 census)
Languages: Niuean, a Polynesian language closely related to Tongan and Samoan; English
Literacy: definition: NA
total population: 95%