Niue Rock of the Pacific

There are many small island nations scattered through the Pacific and the island of Niue is typical of many; except for the fact that it is not really an independent nation, but enjoys a free association with New Zealand.

Where is Niue? It is a coral atoll which is located in the middle of a triangle that is formed by the Polynesian islands of Tonga, Cook Islands and Samoa. Niue was settled about 1300 years ago by Samoan people who lived peacefully for about 600 years before being invaded by warriors from Tonga. The first Europeans to sight Niue was the Captain Cook’s expedition in 1774. Captain Cook named the island Savage Island, because it looked like the warriors had blood oozing from their mouths, but the substance was actually a native red banana which stained the teeth.

The people of Niue, however, called their island the Rock because its geography is not typical of coral atolls, and its coastline is quite rugged in parts.

Because Niue has such a strong association with New Zealand, its citizens also hold New Zealand citizenship, the island depends on much of its income from its larger neighbour. The population of Niue has dwindled over the years, and now only about 1400 people live on the island.

Transport also can be a problem as the island receives just one Air New Zealand flight per week. However, those who take the trouble to make the trip will find themselves made very welcome.

Most of the activities involve some sort of adventure, be it fishing, diving, sailing or trekking. Niue is not a large island, but it has a great number of caves, some of which have very unusual rock formations, and exploring the caves is one thing most visitors do.

Whale and dolphin watching are also popular pastimes.

There are several interesting facts concerning the island of Niue. For instance, it was the first country in the world to allow all of its citizens to free, countrywide WiFi. The fact that Niue has a total area of just 260 sq kms did help aid the provision of the internet.

It is a religious country with the majority of the population following their own brand of Christianity called Ekalesia Niue. Other citizens are adherents to the Church Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Roman Catholicism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh-Day Adventism.

The slogan they use to entice visitors to the island is `you arrive as a visitor and leave as a friend’, which neatly sums up one of the smallest and laidback countries in the world.

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