Mangaia, once called AUAU, which means something like " terraced ", is the southernmost and with an area of 52 square kilometers, the second largest in the South Pacific Cook Islands. The island is located about 200 km southeast of Rarotonga, the main island of the archipelago.
Mangaia is, like Atiu and Mitiaro, a Superior Atoll volcanic origin, and is considered one of the oldest islands in the Pacific. Geological investigations date the age of the island, consisting of a 4750 m from the sea floor rising volcano, about 18 million years. The island itself rises at its highest point, the volcanic cone Rangimotia, only 169 m above the water surface, and when is surrounded by an up to 60 m high, ring-shaped coral reef.
The island was discovered on 29 March 1777 by the English navigator James Cook, after which the entire archipelago is named. Since Cook was not received by the local population Mangaias friendly, they came for years in oblivion.
In June 1823 Mangaia was designed by the English missionary John Williams, in the search for the Island of Rarotonga, rediscovered by chance, which the islanders - in contrast to Cook - this time friendly recordings.
The island was " under protection " with the other Cook Islands in 1888 by England (Protectorate ) and 1900 annexed. Today the islands are a part of the Cook Islands in free association with New Zealand.
On Mangaia, which is a popular tourist destination mainly because of their caves, there are some smaller hotels. The island is accessible via a runway in the north by plane from the main island (Air Rarotonga ).
2006, Mangaia about 650 inhabitants.