Cook Islands profile
Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by a governor
Prime Minister: Henry Puna
Lawyer and pearl farmer Henry Puna took office in December 2010 after his Cook Islands Party won a comfortable majority in elections.
The Cook Islands Party unseated the Democratic Party which had dominated politics on the islands for the past decade.
Mr Puna's party won a two-thirds majority of the 24 seats in parliament.
Before the elections he was quoted as saying he planned to pay a $770 "baby bonus" to the mother of each child born in the Cook Islands to try reverse a steady decline in population caused by migration to New Zealand.
Mr Puna studied law in Auckland University and the University of Tasmania before returning to practice law in the Cook Islands.