So small it could fit into London just over six times, and indeed, the population of London is just over six thousand times greater. This country became the world’s first ‘Wi-Fi’ nation in 2003, in which free wireless internet access is provided throughout the country. 95% of the population have access to the internet, the highest per capita internet penetration on Earth. This country has the second highest proportion of Jehovah’s Witnesses on Earth, 2% of the population (around 32 people). Seatbelts aren’t obligatory in vehicles and there are no traffic lights. The locals do not look kindly upon drunkenness, and people have been deported for this. Crime is very rare and only ever minor things, like stealing someone’s coconut. They have only one jail, rather small, right next to the countries only golf course. And they also have only one newspaper, named The Niue Star, founded in 1993 by Michael Jackson. No, not that one. Today we’re in the adorably tiny paradise of Niue.
I kid you not, Niue is only 100 square miles, with a population of only 1,611, making it the smallest self-governing state on Earth. Niue is 1,500 miles northeast of New Zealand. It is a self-governing country in free association with New Zealand with most of its diplomatic relations conducted by New Zealand on its behalf. The flag of Niue contains the Union Flag, symbolising the protection granted by the UK in 1900 after petitioning by the Kings and Chiefs of Niue. The golden yellow colour symbolises the bright sunshine the country enjoys, and also the warm feelings of the Niuean people toward New Zealand and its people. The four stars are representative of the Southern Cross, also present on the New Zealand flag. And the blue disc around the star symbolises the deep blue ocean around the island. It is one of my favourite flags. The most interesting thing about the country is its name. It means ‘Behold the coconut’. Yes. I’m genuinely not kidding. That’s an actual fact…
Niueans are some of the friendliest, respectful and proudest people you’re ever likely to encounter. Tourism is vital for them and their hospitality to these visitors is exceptional. They are well educated and enjoy life. If they offer to help you, you better accept, because they will be highly offended if you don’t. Agriculture is also important to them, as is their most popular sport, rugby union, played by both genders. Netball is also popular, but only played by women. Rugby league and football (soccer) are also played. Their culture is inspired and rich in music, usually only vocal, but sometimes played with a wooden drum known as a ‘palau’ or ‘nafa’. The country may be small, but it is beautiful.
It is most famous for its many caves and its limestone arches. It is actually one giant piece of coral. Art is celebrated in the Hikulagi Sculpture Park, wondrous pieces of modern art, packed with meaning and vigour. The coral chasm is a belluine tapestry of otherworldly embrace. The Matapa Chasm is a luscious narrow blue body of water dominated by tall and harsh cliff faces flanking each side. And then we have the spectacular Talava Arches, colossal stone arches along the water’s edge. An oneiric majesty of supreme grace and splendour.
For me, the greatest sight of Niue is the Avaiki Caves. Of all their caves, it’s the most alien, something from another world. It’s captivating. The coruscating waters are versicolour, creating a sensual gallimaufry of utter joy. Our lives fall into mirksomeness when gazing at such beauty. This isangelous widdendream is almost unreal, a simply stunning part of Earth.
Niue. The country of outstanding natural beauty, music and coconuts.
Images: 1) The flag of Niue (credit: wikimedia.org), 2) Avaiki Caves (credit: tripadvisor.com), 3) Matapa Chasm (credit: jennypaytraveldiary.blogspot.co.uk)
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