Niue ( NEW-ay; Niuean: Niuē) is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) northeast of New Zealand, and east of Tonga, south of Samoa and west of the Cook Islands. Its land area is 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi) and its population, predominantly Polynesian, was around 1,612 as of November 2016. The island is commonly referred to as "The Rock", which comes from the traditional name "Rock of Polynesia".
Niue, whose capital is the village of Alofi, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand; and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations on its behalf. Niueans are citizens of New Zealand, and Queen Elizabeth II is head of state in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand. Between 90–95% of Niuean people live in New Zealand, along with about 70% of the speakers of the Niuean language. A bilingual country, Niue has over 30% of its population speak both Niuean and English, though the percentage of monolingual English-speaking people ...
is only 11%, while 46% are monolingual Niuean speakers. Rugby is the most played sport in Niue. In October 2016, Niue officially declared that all its national debt was paid off, and that there was no longer any national debt in Niue.
Niue is not a member of the United Nations (UN), but UN organisations have accepted its status as a freely-associated state as equivalent to independence for the purposes of international law. As such, Niue is a full member of some UN specialised agencies (such as UNESCO, and the WHO), and is invited, alongside the other non-UN member state, the Cook Islands, to attend United Nations conferences open to "all states". Niue is subdivided into 14 villages (municipalities). Each village has a village council that elects its chairman. The villages are at the same time electoral districts. Each village sends an assemblyman to the Parliament of Niue.
In 2003, Niue became the first country in the world to offer free wireless internet to all its inhabitants. Niue Island Organic Farmers Association is currently paving way to an MEA (Multilateral Environmental Agreement) committed to making Niue the world's first fully organic nation. A leader in green growth, Niue is also transitioning to solar power, with help from the European Union. In 2015, Niue started providing phone landlines to all of its inhabitants. In 2008, Niue became the first country in the world where laptops are provided to all its school students. A highly democratic nation, Niueans enjoy high freedom, with elections every 3 years. There are no political parties in Niue; all assembly members are independents. The last political party, Niue People's Party (1987–2003), won once, but was subsequently disbanded in 2003.
In January 2004, Niue was hit by Cyclone Heta, which caused extensive damage to the entire island, including wiping out most of the south of the capital, Alofi. The disaster set the island back about two years from its planned timeline to implement the Niue Integrated Strategic Plan (NISP), since national efforts concentrated on recovery. In 2008, Niue had yet to fully recover. Niue is one of the world's largest coral islands. The terrain consists of steep limestone cliffs along the coast with a central plateau rising to about 60 metres above sea level. A coral reef surrounds the island, with the only major break in the reef being in the central western coast, close to to Alofi. A notable feature are the many limestone caves found close to the coast.