The Cook Islands (Cook Islands Māori: Kūki 'Āirani) is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands whose total land area is 240 km2. The Cook Islands' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1800000 km2 of ocean.
New Zealand is responsible for the Cook Islands' defence and foreign affairs, but they are exercised in consultation with the Cook Islands. In recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand, they have the status of Cook Islands nationals, which is not given to other New Zealand citizens. The Cook Islands has been an active member of the Pacific Community since 1980.