New Zealand is a Pacific island country located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Geographically, the nation is divided into two major landmasses: the North Island, or Te Ika-a-Mui, and the South Island, or Te Waipounamu, as well as many smaller islands. New Zealand is located about 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) east of Australia and approximately 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Due to its remoteness, it was one of the last human settlements. New Zealand acquired a unique variety of animal, fungal, and plant life during its prolonged isolation. The country’s diverse terrain and steep mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, are mostly the result of land tectonic upheaval and volcanic eruptions. Wellington is the capital city of New Zealand, but Auckland is the most populated city.
Polynesians arrived in the islands that would become New Zealand between 1250 and 1300 CE and established a unique Mori culture. In 1642, Dutch adventurer Abel Tasman became the first European to see New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between representatives of the British Crown and Mori Chiefs, establishing New Zealand as a British colony. Today, the bulk of New Zealand’s 4.7 million inhabitants are of European ancestry; the indigenous Mori are the biggest minority, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. As a result, New Zealand’s culture is mostly descended from Mori and early British immigrants, with recent expansion resulting from increasing immigration. The official languages of New Zealand are English, Mori, and New Zealand Sign Language, with English being the most widely spoken.
New Zealand is a developed economy that operates on a market economy model. New Zealand is a high-income country that scores well in worldwide assessments of national performance across a range of indicators, including health, education, economic independence, and overall quality of life. On a national level, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political authority is exercised by the Cabinet, which is presently headed by John Key. The country’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by a governor-general. Additionally, New Zealand is organized for local government purposes into 11 regional councils and 67 territory administrations. Additionally, the Realm of New Zealand include Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing nations in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, which is New Zealand’s Antarctic territorial claim. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, OECD, Pacific Islands Forum, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.