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Country losing about 1,000 per year

By Martin Tiffany RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Aug. 26, 2010) - The Cook Island’s population appears to be continuing its downward trend, according to the latest statistics released by Statistics Cook Islands.

While these statistics are almost eight months old, they show the resident population of the country dropping year on year.

For the December 2009 quarter the resident population was estimated to be 12,000 – a drop of 8.4 percent compared with the previous quarter which notched up 13,100.

The statistics department says this is a normal trend in the December quarter with the large number of Cook Islands residents travelling overseas for holidays and visiting friends and family.

For 2009 in total, the estimated resident population was 13,300 which was down on the 2008 figure of 14,200 and 14,700 in 2007.

The statistics again showed that a number of residents left the country permanently with 374 last year up on 271 leaving permanently in 2008.

[PIR editor’s note: According to New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs and Trade site, "…the Cook Islands adopted a Constitution In 1965 enabling self-government in free association with New Zealand. An estimated 50,000 Cook Islanders are now living in New Zealand. The Cook Islands is facing increasing pressure over the sustainability of government debt levels. Tourism is vital to the Cook Islands economy and is estimated to account for around 60 percent of GDP."]

It is worth noting that on the statistics that hundreds of departing residents each year do not specify why they are leaving which makes it difficult to keep a truly accurate tally of the permanent population.

For both resident and nonresident populations – this includes tourists and short-term visitors – the total population was estimated by the statistics department to be 24,400 in the December 2009 quarter, showing an increase of 1.7 percent.

Births were also up for the quarter with 68 registered in December last year – an average of six per week. This is 6.3 percent more when compared with the previous quarter.

But despite the new arrivals – 255 in total last year – the total population continues its concerning downward trend, driven by people leaving permanently to live overseas.

This continuing population loss remains a concern and remains an economic risk.

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