Small island of Niue losing population, tries to keep residents

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Small Island Tries To Keep Residents

Fifty years ago, the island of Niue once housed more than 5,000 people, but today, it's losing its population, barely holding onto less than 1,600 residents.

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Niue island residents are fleeing
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Small island of Niue losing population, tries to keep residents
In this Wednesday, June 4, 2014 photo, a boy jumps from a wharf in Alofi, Niue. Severe population decline on the tiny Pacific atoll is threatening a culture that dates back more than 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)
In this Wednesday, June 4, 2014 photo, waves break on the coastline in Tamakautoga, Niue. Severe population decline on the tiny Pacific atoll is threatening a culture that dates back more than 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)
In this Wednesday, June 4, 2014 photo, a coconut sits on the grass in Alofi, Niue. Severe population decline on the tiny Pacific atoll is threatening a culture that dates back more than 1,000 years. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)
View over Limu Pools towards the ocean, Niue, South Pacific Islands,
Limu Pools, Niue, Pacific
Sunset from a whale watch point in Niue.
Coastline of Alofi, Niue, South Pacific Island. Turquoise water & palm tree lined coastline.
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Part of the shrinking numbers are due to the country's connection with New Zealand, where 24,000 Niueans currently live. Niueans are automatically New Zealand citizens, though the country governs itself.

The lush Pacific island is one of many hit by the exodus. The CIA estimates the population of the Cook Islands in the south is declining by 3% per year. It is also in free association with New Zealand.

On Niue, six schools used to stand, now there is only one. Other buildings once filled with people remain empty -- but Niueans remain optimistic. Last year, the tourism industry saw a boost with 7,000 people visited the island which is twice as many as six years before. On top of beautiful, quiet beaches, the island is said to have some of the world's best diving spots because of its marine life and underwater cathedrals.

It's also where Captain Cook attempted to land in the 1700s.

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