The Cook Islands are named after Captain James Cook, who visited the islands in 1773 and 1777, although Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendaña was the first European to reach the islands in 1595. The Cook Islands became aligned to the United Kingdom in 1890, largely because of the fear of British residents that France might occupy the islands as it already had Tahiti.By 1900, the islands were annexed as British territory. In 1901, the islands were included within the boundaries of the Colony of New Zealand.The Cook Islands contain 15 islands in the group spread over a vast area in the South Pacific. The majority of islands are low coral atolls in the Northern Group, with Rarotonga, a volcanic island in the Southern Group, as the main administration and government centre. The main Cook Islands language is Rarotongan Māori. There are some variations in dialect in the 'outer' islands.Early settlers of the Cooks
It is thought that the Cook Islands may have been settled betwe
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