The indigenous Māori language name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, commonly translated as “The Land of the Long White Cloud”.
|Government||Parliamentary democracy and Constitutional monarchy|
|Area||268,021 km2, 103,483 sq mi|
|Population||~ 4.4 million|
|Currency||New Zealand dollar (NZD)|
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island), and numerous smaller islands, most notablyStewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, Tokelau and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica). New Zealand is known for its geographic isolation: it is situated about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
New Zealand’s capital city is Wellington with a population of 386,000. It is the third mostpopulous city of the country. The urban area of Wellington is situated on the southwestern tip of the country’s North Island. The largest city of New Zealand is Auckland with a population approaching 1.4 million residents, 31 percent of the country’s population. Other large cities of New Zealand are Christchurch and Hamilton.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
New Zealand is culturally and linguistically part of Polynesia. Much of contemporary New Zealand culture derives from British roots. It is made up of significant influences from American, Australian and Māori cultures, along with those of other European and Asian cultures. Large festivals in celebration of Diwali and Chinese New Year are held in several of the larger centres. The world’s largest Polynesian festival, Pasifika, is an annual event in Auckland.
New Zealand has a population of about 4.3 million, of which approximately 78% identify with European ethnic groups. Most European New Zealanders are of British and Irish ancestry, although there has been significant Dutch, Dalmatian, Italian, and German immigration together with indirect European immigration through Australia, North America, South America and South Africa. Indigenous Māori people are the largest non-European ethnic group, accounting for 14.6% of the population in the 2006 Census.
Until 1987, English was New Zealand’s only official language, and remains predominant in most settings. Māori became an official language in 1987 and New Zealand Sign Language in 2006. The two official spoken languages, English and Māori, are also the most widely used; English is spoken by 98% of the population and Māori by 4.1%. Samoan is the most widely spoken non-official language (2.3%), followed by French, Hindi, Yue and Northern Chinese.
According to the 2006 census, Christianity is the predominant religion in New Zealand, held by 55.6% of the population. Another 34.7% indicated that they had no religion, and around 4%affiliated with other religions. There are also significant numbers who identify themselves with Pentecostal and Baptist churches and with the LDS (Mormon) church. According to census figures, other significant minority religions include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.
Government and politics
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. She is represented by the Governor-General, whom she appoints on the exclusive advice of the Prime Minister. The current Governor-General is Anand Satyanand. He chairs the Executive Council, which is a formal committee consisting of all ministers of the Crown. Members of the Executive Council are required to be Members of Parliament. The New Zealand Parliament comprises one chamber, the House of Representatives, which usually seats 120 members. New Zealand’s judiciary includes the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the Court of Appeal, the High Court and subordinate courts.
New Zealand has a modern, prosperous, developed economy. The country has a relatively high standard of living with an estimated GDP per capita of US$ 31,067 in 2010, comparable to that of Southern Europe. Taxation in New Zealand is lighter than in other OECDcountries. The service sector is the largest sector in the economy, followed by manufacturing and construction and the farming/raw materials extraction. A high export makes New Zealand particularly vulnerable to international commodity prices and global economic slowdowns. Its principal export industries are agriculture, horticulture, fishing and forestry. New Zealanders have a high level of life satisfaction as measured by international surveys.