Penrhyn Island

Penrhyn Island is the most remote and largest atoll of the 15 Cook Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean, 9 degrees below the equator. It sits atop the highest submarine volcano in the Cooks, 4876 m above the ocean floor. It comprises a ring of coral 77 km around. The lagoon covers 233 square kilometers of which 62 square kilometers are covered with pearl shell.

Land area is 9.84 square kilometers. Maximum elevation less than 5 m. Population according to the 2001 census was 357. As of 2006 the population of the island has shrunk to only 200 or so inhabitants according to the current mayor of the island.

In World War II, a substantial airstrip was built, which is still used today although flights are very irregular as of 2007.

A large passage in the lagoon allows inter-island ships to enter the lagoon, and the island has become popular as a stopover for with yachts crossing the Pacific from Panama to New Zealand.

Black pearl farming is the only significant economic activity on the island. The locally produced Rito hats, woven from coconut fiber, are considered the finest in the whole South Pacific. The present population of the island relies on the ocean for most of their food as well as locally grown plants such as coconut and breadfruit