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New Zealand

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New Zealand

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Quick Facts
Governmentparliamentary democracy
CurrencyNew Zealand dollar (NZD)
Areatotal: 268,680 sq km
note: includes offshore islands.
Population4,010,000 (July 2003 est.)
LanguageEnglish (official), Maori (official)
ReligionAnglican 24%, Presbyterian 18%, Roman Catholic 15%, Methodist 5%, Baptist 2%, other Protestant 3%, unspecified or none 33% (1986)

This article is in the early stages of being developed from a import from the CIA World Factbook 2002. Please plunge forward and edit it.

New Zealand was the last significant land mass to be inhabited by man, both in terms of indigenous settlement and European domination. This, combined with geological youth and geographical isolation, has led to the development of a young, vigourous nation with a well-travelled, well-educated population and some spectacular scenery, flora and fauna.

The Polynesian Maoris reached New Zealand in about the 800 AD. The British proclaimed their sovereignty over the islands in 1840 and began settlement that same year. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand's full participation in number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.


Map of New Zealand
Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
Geographic coordinates 
41 00 S, 174 00 E
Map references 
total: 268,680 sq km
note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands
water: NA sq km
land: NA sq km
Area - comparative 
about the size of UK

15,134 km
Maritime claims 
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
temperate with sharp regional contrasts
predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Cook 3,764 m
Natural resources 
natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Land use 
arable land: 5.8%
permanent crops: 6.44%
other: 87.76% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
2,850 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
Environment - current issues 
deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by species introduced from outside

Geography - note 
about 80% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world


4,000,000 (April 2003 est.)
noun: New Zealander(s)
adjective: New Zealand
Ethnic groups 
New Zealand European 74.5%, Maori 9.7%, other European 4.6%, Pacific Islander 3.8%, Asian and others 7.4%
Anglican 24%, Presbyterian 18%, Roman Catholic 15%, Methodist 5%, Baptist 2%, other Protestant 3%, unspecified or none 33% (1986)
English (official), Maori (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99% (1980 est.)
male: NA%
female: NA%


Country name
New Zealand
abbreviation: NZ
Government type 
parliamentary democracy
Administrative divisions 
16 regions; Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Marlborough, Nelson, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Tasman, Waikato, Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington, West Coast
Dependent areas 
Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau
26 September 1907 (from UK)
National holiday 
Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840).
Other Holidays 
All but essential shops and services are closed by law on Christmas Day (25th December), Good Friday, Easter Sunday and the morning of ANZAC Day (April 25th).

Other Bank Holidays (most retail businesses open) are January 1st, January 2nd, Queen's Birthday (Celebrated on the first Monday in June), Labour Day (Last Monday of October), Boxing Day (December 26th) plus the Anniversary day of each region.

consists of a series of legal documents, including certain acts of the UK and New Zealand Parliaments and The Constitution Act 1986 which is the principal formal charter
Legal system 
based on English law, with special land legislation and land courts for Maoris; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Flag description 
blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant with four red five-pointed stars edged in white centered in the outer half of the flag; the stars represent the Southern Cross constellation


Economy - overview 
Since 1984 the government has accomplished major economic restructuring, transforming New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes (but left behind many at the bottom of the ladder), broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. While per capita incomes have been rising, however, they remain below the level of the four largest EU economies, and there is some government concern that New Zealand is not closing the gap. New Zealand is heavily dependent on trade - particularly in agricultural products - to drive growth, and it has been affected by the global economic slowdown and the slump in commodity prices.
food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, mining
Agriculture - products 
wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, fruits, vegetables; wool, beef, dairy products; fish
$14.2 billion (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities 
dairy products, meat, wood and wood products, fish, machinery
Exports - partners 
Australia 20.4%, US 14.5%, Japan 13.5%, UK 5.4%, South Korea, China (2000)
Imports - commodities 
machinery and equipment, vehicles and aircraft, petroleum, electronics, textiles, plastics
Imports - partners 
Australia 22.5%, US 17.5%, Japan 11%, UK 4%, China, Germany (2000)
New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code 


Telephone system 
general assessment: excellent domestic and international systems
domestic: NA
international: submarine cables to Australia and Fiji; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Internet country code 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
36 (2000)
Internet users 
2.06 million (2002)


total: 3,908 km
narrow gauge: 3,908 km 1.067-m gauge (506 km electrified)

Auckland and Wellington have commuter rail services. Inter-city rail passenger services have become increasingly limited, and the focus is now on tourist trains, in particular:

  • The Tranzalpine - From Christchurch to Greymouth and return daily. Classed as one of the world's great train journeys, this trip crosses the South Island, passing through spectacular mountain scenery, some of which is inaccessible by road as well as the 12km Otira tunnel. Many visitors disembark at the Arthurs Pass National Park and spend four hours exploring the mountains before catching the return train.
  • The Coastal Pacific - From Christchurch to Picton and return daily. Travels along the rugged north-east coast of the South Island.
1,609 km
note: of little importance in satisfying total transportation requirements
petroleum products 160 km; natural gas 1,000 km; liquefied petroleum gas or LPG 150 km
Ports and harbors 
Auckland, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Lyttelton (Christchurch), Timaru, Port Chalmers (Dunedin).
Airports International airports at Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
territorial claim in Antarctica (Ross Dependency)