Lying in the South Pacific, 990 miles (1600 km) southeast of Australia, New Zealand comprises North and South Islands, separated by the Cook Strait, and many smaller islands.
Geography: North Island, noted for hot springs and geysers, has the bulk of the population. South Island is mostly mountainous, with eastern lowlands.
Climate: Generally temperate and damp. The far north is almost subtropical, whereas southern winters are cold.
People & Society: Maoris were the first settlers, 1200 years ago. Today’s majority European population is descended mainly from British migrants who settled after 1840. Maoris’ living and education standards are generally lower than average. The government is continuing to negotiate the settlement of Maori land claims.
The Economy: Tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner. Modern agricultural sector; world’s top exporter of dairy products. Hi-tech manufacturing. Open economy. Strong trade links.
Insight: New Zealand women were the first to get the vote (1893)
Official Name: New Zealand
Date Of Formation: 1947
Population: 4.27 million
Total Area: 103,737 sq. miles (268,680 sq. km)
Density: 41 people per sq. mile
Languages: English*, Maori*
Religions: Anglican 24%, other 22%, Presbyterian 18%, nonreligious 16%, Roman Catholic 15%, Methodist 5%
Ethnic Mix: European 75%, Maori 15%, other 7%, Samoan 3%
Government: Parliamentary system
Currency: New Zealand dollar = 100 cents