The world’s smallest independent nation, the raised atoll of Niue has a population of 1,190 people (2014 estimate[1]). Niue has approximately 259 km2 of land and an EEZ of 390,000 km2. The capital is Alofi, which is located on the western side of the island. A total of 14 villages are scattered across the island, and a 64 km circuit road passes through all the villages. Niue’s coastline is rocky and rugged, with steep cliffs, caves, deep chasms and blowholes. Niue is also home to one of the world’s largest coral reefs.



Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand.  Being a coral atoll, Niue’s soils are marginal, and intensive agriculture is difficult due to shallow soil, low nutrient content and poor soil structure. Taro, cassava, sweetpotato and yams are commonly grown, while livestock such as chickens, pigs and a small number of cattle support subsistence livelihoods.

Niue is vulnerable to climate risks such as tropical cyclones and droughts; geological risks such as earthquakes and tsunamis; and human-induced risks such as disease outbreaks and contamination of the water supply. Niue’s risk profile is inherently linked to its isolation. Traditional coping strategies have tended to make way for an increased reliance on external support, as New Zealand fulfils its obligations to provide support to Niue in times of disaster. Climate change is likely to exacerbate most of Niue’s risks.

Niue has no surface water and relies upon groundwater resources and rain catchments. Groundwater is recharged via rainfall infiltration and rainfall currently exceeds the rate of extraction. However, Niue’s porous soil means that its underground freshwater is vulnerable to contamination from both human causes (e.g. agricultural chemicals) and natural sources (e.g. seawater). Waste management is an additional source of risk of contamination. Inadequate waste management in the livestock sector also poses a threat to water quality. Deforestation poses a risk to the stability of Niue’s shallow soils.

[1] 2014. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook.