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Niue is a Polynesian island in the South Pacific, south of American Samoa, west of Tonga and east of the Cook Islands. It is often referred to as The Rock.

Niue was first settled by Polynesians from Samoa around 900 AD and then by people from Tonga who arrived in the 16th century. Heads of families remained the only authority until 1700 when a succession of kings ruled.

The first European sighting was by Captain Cook in 1774 but he was stopped from landing. He thus called it Savage Island, a name used until the 20th century. London missionaries arrived in 1846 and the people were eventually converted to Christianity.

In 1889 the islanders asked for UK protection from other European powers, particularly from the French who were active slavers in the region. It was annexed in 1901, along with the Cook Islands, as part of the Colony of New Zealand. Self-government was granted by New Zealand in 1974 following a referendum in which the inhabitants refused full independence.

New Zealand now runs foreign affairs for the country and over 90% of Niuean people live in New Zealand, who have citizenship rights. In 2004 Cyclone Heta caused extensive damage including destroying much of the capital.

Niue is a raised coral atoll resting on oceanic crust of the Pacific ocean plate. It is not volcanic like many of the Cook Islands and is one of the world's largest coral islands with steep limestone cliffs and a central plateau rising to 60m.

A reef surrounds the island with 2 bays indenting the west coast. There are also 3 outlying submerged reefs within the Exclusive Economic Zone without any sub-aerial territory.

The geology of Niue is not suitable for the generation and accumulation of commercial volumes of oil and gas and the territory has no indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore. Globalshift believes that it is very unlikely to achieve any production in the future. No exploration wells have ever been drilled.


Map and National Flag

Brief history of the territory (New Zealand)



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Land area (sq kms)

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Gas cons (bcm/yr)



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Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand.

The UK monarch is head of state through the Governor-General of New Zealand. However, in practice sovereignty is exercised by a cabinet of 4 ministers, including the nominated premier, who heads the 20-member Legislative Assembly. Elections for the assembly take place every 3 years.

There is no department of government in Niue specifically responsible for oil and gas resources.

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