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.
His government retained a narrow majority in the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Mr Puna studied law in Auckland University and the University of Tasmania before returning to practice law in the Cook Islands.