This article needs to be updated. (April 2020)
New Zealand (known as Aotearoa in the Māori language) is an island country in Oceania. It is a sovereign state in the south-western part of the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of two large islands (the North Island and the South Island) and many smaller islands. These islands are located to the southeast of Australia. New Zealand was one of the last places in the world that humans discovered, because it is a long way away from most of the world. During its time without humans, New Zealand was a good place for an unusual range of plants and animals to develop.
The hemisphere centred on New Zealand
|Official languages||English (95.9%)[n 2]|
NZ Sign Language (0.6%)
|National language||English (98%)|
|Ethnic groups||78% European/Other[n 3]|
6.9% Pacific peoples
|Demonym(s)||New Zealander, |
|Government||Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy|
|Dame Patsy Reddy|
from the United Kingdom[n 4]
|17 January 1853|
|26 September 1907|
|11 December 1931 (adopted 25 November 1947)|
|13 December 1986|
|268,021 km2 (103,483 sq mi) (75th)|
• Water (%)
• September 2011 estimate
• 2006 census
|16.5/km2 (42.7/sq mi) (202nd)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
|$120.2 billion (61st)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
|$157.877 billion (51st)|
• Per capita
|HDI (2011)|| 0.908|
very high · 5th
|Currency||New Zealand dollar (NZD)|
|Time zone||UTC+12 (NZST[n 6])|
• Summer (DST)
|(Sep to Apr)|
|ISO 3166 code||NZ|
|Internet TLD||.nz[n 7]|
The official languages are English, Māori and New Zealand sign language. English has never been granted official language status in the NZ laws, but it is used as a default official language due to its wide usage.
In 2010, a newspaper in NZ said that New Zealand was the 8th happiest country in the world.
In the Māori language, the country is called Aotearoa, which means "Land of the Long White Cloud". Ao means “cloud”, tea means “white”, and roa means “long”. The name "New Zealand" comes from “Zeeland” (which translates to "Sealand") in Dutch, after the islands were seen by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. Zeeland is a province of the Netherlands.
Government and politicsEdit
Elections are held every 3 years.
The North Island is smaller than the South Island, but most people (more than 3 million) live there. This might be because the North Island is usually warmer, and has more big cities.
About half of the people in New Zealand are religious. As of the 2018 census, 48.2% had no religion. The main religion in New Zealand is Christianity. Just over 2 million New Zealanders are Christian. The second most common religion is Hinduism, with 2.6%.
Most New Zealanders live in urban areas, with the other 27% living in small towns or farming communities.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest city, with around 1 million people. Other cities in the North Island include Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, New Plymouth, Whanganui, and Palmerston North. South Island cities include Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Invercargill and Timaru.
New Zealand sits at the boundary between the Australian and Pacific continental plates. When these two plates bumped into each other ('collided'), the Pacific plate moved under the Australian plate, north of the South Island. As a result, there has been lots of volcanic activity. South of the South Island, the Australian plate moves under the Pacific plate instead. The plates slide past each other in the South Island, where they have pushed up the Southern Alps. Because of these two colliding plates, New Zealand often has earthquakes. One of the best known is the 2010-2011 group of earthquakes that hit the Christchurch area.
The diagram shows that the North Island is on the Australian plate, but most of the South Island is on the Pacific plate. New Zealand is still geologically active, and will remain so as long as the islands are sitting above the plate boundary.
The oldest rocks in New Zealand date from the Cambrian period, 512 million years ago. New Zealand became part of the global supercontinent Pangaea. When that split (End-Triassic/early Jurassic), New Zealand became part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana. Finally Gondwana broke up, leaving the continents rather as they are today.
New Zealand was isolated from the rest of the world for a long time. It split from Australia 83 million years ago. Because of this, there are many plants and animals that only live in New Zealand. Before humans came to New Zealand, there were no mammals, except three species of bat and marine mammals such as seals, dolphins, and whales. Instead, New Zealand has many different kinds of bird. New Zealand has several species of flightless bird, including the kiwi and Kakapo. For the lizards, especially important is the Tuatara, the only living member of a whole order of reptiles.
New Zealand used to have more rare species, but some, mostly birds, were hunted to extinction early in its history. The giant Moa, Dinornis, is a famous example. The group of birds which the moa belongs to had been in existence since the Cretaceous period. Humans arrived in New Zealand about a thousand years ago, when many moa were living, especially on the South Island. Archaeological sites with evidence of moa hunting are all over New Zealand. The moa became extinct about five hundred years ago. Extinctions closer to today have been caused by habitat change and introduced species like rats, dogs, cats, and possums, which kill the native birds and lizards, or eat their eggs.
- Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb to the top of Mount Everest, was from New Zealand.
- New Zealand has become more popular since New Zealander Peter Jackson made the The Lord of the Rings movies there.
- Many farmers in New Zealand breed sheep. There are many more sheep than people in New Zealand.
- Many New Zealanders are interested in sports. Their national sport is usually considered to be rugby (in winter). They have impressive athletes in rowing, cycling, shotput, discus, iron man, triathlon, yachting, climbing, surfing, cricket, netball, softball, wind surfing, gliding, and more.
- New Zealanders enjoy outdoor pursuits. The country has a "clean, green" image, but per-person emissions are 7th worst out of 41 industrialized nations as of 2017. Really bad air and water pollution is fairly rare, though occasional outbreaks in the past 20 years have caused problems for livestock and the surrounding waters. Most major rivers (60% estimated as of 2017) are not safe to swim in due to farming pollution and run-off.
- New Zealand, like many other small nations, has a strong local media. New Zealand has a wide variety of musicians, television, and radio celebrities, and stand-up comedians. Although most are simply "world-famous in New Zealand", many others have successfully made it on the international scene. Such people and groups include Russell Crowe (actor), Kiri Te Kanawa (singer), the Flight of the Conchords, Lorde, Crowded House (bands/singers), Lee Tamahori, Taika Waititi, and Peter Jackson (movie directors).
- The NZ Army mostly does peacekeeping and natural disaster support. New Zealand sent army engineers to Iraq to do rebuilding during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
- The middle of New Zealand's North Island has an almost-desert. State Highway 1, the main north-south road, goes through that desert. This section of the road in the desert - the Desert Road - can often be closed in winter. It is called a desert because it has bare areas and unusual plants that normally grow on mountains.
- "New Zealand's National Anthems". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
- "Protocol for using New Zealand's National Anthems". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
- "QuickStats About Culture and Identity: Languages spoken". Statistics New Zealand. March 2006. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
- Didham, Robert; Potter, Deb; Allan, Jo-anne (April 2005). "Understanding and Working with Ethnicity Data" (PDF). Statistics New Zealand. ISBN 9780478315059. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2010. Cite journal requires
- "The New Zealand Land Cover Database". New Zealand Land Cover Database 2. New Zealand Ministry for the Environment. 1 July 2009. Archived from the original on 14 March 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- "National Population Estimates: September 2011 quarter". Statistics New Zealand. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011.
- "QuickStats About New Zealand's Population and Dwellings: Population counts". 2006 Census. Statistics New Zealand. Archived from the original on 1 November 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- "New Zealand". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- "Equality and inequality: Gini index". Human Development Report 2009. United Nations Development Programme. Archived from the original on 17 October 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- "Human Development Report 2011" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
- "NZ eighth happiest country in the world". nzherald.co.nz. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
- "How government works". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- "Place Summaries | New Zealand | Stats NZ". stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 15/10/2020. Check date values in:
- "QuickStats About Culture and Identity - Statistics New Zealand". stats.govt.nz. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- "QuickStats About Culture and Identity - Statistics New Zealand". stats.govt.nz. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
- Graham, Ian J. et al. 2008. A continent on the move : New Zealand geoscience into the 21st century. The Geological Society of New Zealand in association with GNS Science. ISBN 978-1-877480-00-3
- Campbell, Hamish & Hutching, Gerard 2007. In search of ancient New Zealand, Penguin Books in association with GNS Science. ISBN 978-0-14-302088-2
- Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand An overview of New Zealand's geology
- Martin P.S. and Klein R.G. (eds) Quaternary extinctions: a prehistoric revolution. University of Arizona Press, Tucson AZ.
- "NZ seventh-worst on emissions of 41 nations". Radio New Zealand. 2017-05-26. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
- "Dairy farming is polluting New Zealand's water". The Economist. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
- Homer, Lloyd; Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "The Desert Road". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
- Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "The volcanic region". teara.govt.nz. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
- "God Save the Queen" is officially a national anthem but is generally used only on regal and vice-regal occasions.
- Language percentages add to more than 100% because some people speak more than one language. They exclude unusable responses and those who spoke no language (e.g. too young to talk).
- Ethnicity percentages add to more than 100% because some people identify with more than one ethnic group.
- There is a multitude of dates that could be considered to mark independence (see Independence of New Zealand).
- The proportion of New Zealand's area (excluding estuaries) covered by rivers, lakes and ponds, based on figures from the New Zealand Land Cover Database, is (357526 + 81936) / (26821559 – 92499–26033 – 19216) = 1.6%. If estuarine open water, mangroves, and herbaceous saline vegetation are included, the figure is 2.2%.
- The Chatham Islands have a separate time zone, 45 minutes ahead of the rest of New Zealand.
- The territories of Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau have their own cctlds, .nu, .ck and .tk respectively.
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