Niuen is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) northeast of New Zealand and within the triangle formed by Tonga (to the southwest), the Samoas (to the northwest) and the Cook Islands (to the southeast). Its land area is 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi) and its population, predominantly Polynesian, is around 1,400. They commonly refer to the island as "the Rock", a reference to the traditional moniker "Rock of Polynesia".
Until the beginning of the 18th century, there appears to have been no national government or national leader. Before then, chiefs and heads of families exercised authority over segments of the population. Around 1700 the concept and practice of kingship appear to have been introduced through contact with Samoa or Tonga. From then a succession of patu-iki (kings) ruled the island, the first of whom was Puni-mata. Tui-toga, who reigned from 1875 to 1887, was the first Christian king.
Besides these, Albert Meyer Reef, (20°53′S, 172°19′W, almost 5 km long and wide, least depth 3 metres, 326 km southwest) is not officially claimed by Niue, and the existence of Haymet Rocks, (26°S, 160°W, 1273 km ESE) is in doubt.
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 the capital, Alofi. A notable feature is the number of limestone caves found close to the coast.
Niue's economy is small, with a GDP of NZ$17 million in 2003, or US$10 million at purchasing power parity. Most economic activity revolves around the government, as the government was traditionally in charge of organising and managing the affairs of the new country since 1974. However, since the economy has reached a stage where state regulation may now give way to the private sector, there is an ongoing effort to develop the private sector. Following Cyclone Heta, the government made a major commitment towards rehabilitating and developing the private sector.
Liku, the eastern-most village of Niue, is the home of prominent international artist Mark Cross and his wife, the master weaver, Ahitautama. Two kilometres south of Liku is the Hikulagi Sculpture Park, an ongoing environmental art project, supported by Reef Shipping,The Pacific Development and Conservation Trust and several other organisations.
Places to Visit in Niue