Niue is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, commonly known as Rock of Polynesia, or simply The Rock, as it is called by the locals. The name Niue (pronounced 'new-ay') is Niuean, a local dialect of Polynesian, and means Behold the Coconut. This island is located 2,400 kilometers north-east of New Zealand and in free association with tis country. The sovereign in right of New Zealand is also the head of state of Niue. It was discovered by Captain James Cook in 1774 and he named it Savage Island, as he was refused to land by the natives.
Niue is one of the world's largest coral islands with a coral reef surrounding it for about 90%, the only major break in the reef is located at the western coast, around the capital Alofi. Characteristic are steep limestone cliffs along the coast and a central plateau rising about 60 meters above sea level, the highest poit is close to the northern tip. 20% of Niue's land area is covered by pristine tropical rainforest.
A special feature of the island is the high amount of limestone, which forms white cliffs along the coast. The limestone is a fossil coral reef, deposited beneath the sea level, when the island was much deeper than today. It was subsequently uplifted, at least twice. The limestone is karstified by the tropic rainwater all over the island, but the most impressive karst features and caves are found along the coast, where the salt of the sea water and the erosion of waves and tide add to the chemical solution of the limestone by rain water. There are numerous caves and karst features which may be visited, but except probably a path or some steps, they are not developed. Many caves are small or have collapsed roofs, so no light is needed, others are real caves which require appropriate equiupment. Karst springs are common and were traditionally used as sources of drinking water, as there is no surface water on the whole island.
A completely different part of the geology of Niue lies below the limestone. The island has probably the biggest deposit of uranium on earth, a result of the volcanoe on which the reef has grown. There is geologic research under way, but so far no mining. An uranium mine would be of immense economic value, but also a great danger to the ecosystem.
Niue is rather poor, and beneath a little tourism (Niue has only 50 rooms to rent), there is the possibility to register a (low taxed) buisness online or register a .nu domain online. On the other hand Niue has excactly one (1) internet cafe. Other activities failed, like the plan to provide offshore banking, which was stopped by an intrevention of the US Treasury, so the island is still very much dependant of the money from the New Zealand government and the money that former islanders, who work abroad, send back to their families.
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