Niue

June 1, 2012, 3:58 pm
Source: CIA World Factbook
Content Cover Image

Avatele, Niue. Source: Flickr

Niue is an island of about 1,300 people in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga. It is one of world's largest coral islands. Niue is a uplifted coral atoll with cliffs on all sides.

Niue has been self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1974; being fully responsible for internal affairs while New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense; however, these responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Government of Niue.

The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population. Most of the population work on family plantations; paid work exists only in government service, small industry, and the Niue Development Board.

Its major environmental issues include increasing attention to conservationist practices to counter loss of soil fertility from traditional slash and burn agriculture.

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 1,311 in 2011) with substantial emigration to New Zealand 2,400 km to the southwest.

Geography

Location: Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga

Geographic Coordinates: 19 02 S, 169 52 W

Area: 260 sq km

Coastline: 64 km

Maritime Claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural Hazards: typhoons

Terrain: steep limestone cliffs along coast, central plateau.  The highest point is an unnamed elevation near Mutalau settlement (68 m).

Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds

NASA astronaut image of Niue Island in the Pacific Ocean. (19 April 2002)

 

Ecology and Biodiversity

Ecologically, Niue is within the Tongan tropical moist forests ecoregion. Niue has 6 seabird and 12 land bird species, including two endemic subspecies.

Archaeological evidence suggests that Tonga and Niue supported a much more spectacular vertebrate fauna before Polynesians arrived approximately 3,000 years ago. At least 3 land bird species disappeared from Niue.

Government

Dependency Status: self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1974; Niue fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense; however, these responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Government of Niue

Government Type: self-governing parliamentary democracy

Capital: Alofi

Administrative divisions: there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 14 villages at the second order

Independence Date: 19 October 1974 (Niue became a self-governing parliamentary government in free association with New Zealand)

Legal System:  English common law

 

Cyclone Heta approaches the island of Niue in this true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image acquired on January 6, 2004 by the Aqua satellite. The storm blew through Samoa, seen in the top center, on January 5 with 105 mile-per-hour winds, which blew down trees and knocked out communications and power. The storm intensified as it moved southeast toward Niue. At the time this image was taken, Heta’s winds reached a powerful 150 miles per hour with gusts up to 184 miles per hour.

When Heta hit Niue on January 7, it hit with brutal force. Half of Alofi’s (the capital city) commercial sector was wiped out, taking with it the island’s communication and power sources, as well as many stores of fresh water. In the wake of the winds, huge waves hit the island and washed away many of the islander’s homes, and destroyed a hospital. The waves also caused a number of injuries and deaths.

Source: NASA. Credit:Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

 

International Environmental Agreements

Niue is party to international agreements on: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, and Ozone Layer Protection.

People and Society

Population: 1,269 (July 2012 est.)

Ethnic Groups: Niuen 78.2%, Pacific islander 10.2%, European 4.5%, mixed 3.9%, Asian 0.2%, unspecified 3% (2001 census)

Population Growth Rate: -0.032% (2012 est.)

Languages: English (official), Niuean (a Polynesian language closely related to Tongan and Samoan)

Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write)

Urbanization: 38% of total population (2010) declining at an annual rate of change of 1.3% (2010-15 est.)

Resources

Natural Resources: fish, arable land

Land Use:

arable land: 11.54%
permanent crops: 15.38%
other: 73.08% (2005)

Economy

The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population.

Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that are used to pay wages to public employees. Niue has cut government expenditures by reducing the public service by almost half.

The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export.

Industry consists primarily of small factories to process passion fruit, lime oil, honey, and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue.

The island in recent years has suffered a serious loss of population because of emigration to New Zealand.

Efforts to increase GDP include the promotion of tourism and financial services, although the International Banking Repeal Act of 2002 resulted in the termination of all offshore banking licenses.

Economic aid from New Zealand in FY08/09 was US$5.7 million. Niue suffered a devastating typhoon in January 2004, which decimated nascent economic programs. While in the process of rebuilding, Niue has been dependent on foreign aid.

GDP: (Purchasing Power Parity): $10.01 million (2003 est.)

GDP: (Official Exchange Rate): $10.01 million (2003)

GDP- per capita (PPP): $5,800 (2003 est.)

GDP- composition by sector:

agriculture: 23.5%
industry: 26.9%
services: 49.5% (2003)

Agricultural products: coconuts, passion fruit, honey, limes, taro, yams, cassava (tapioca), sweet potatoes; pigs, poultry, beef cattle

Industries: handicrafts, food processing

Currency: New Zealand dollars (NZD)

 

Glossary

Citation

Agency, C. (2012). Niue. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/172316

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