Official Name The Dominion of New Zealand
Capital City Wellington (169,000)
Languages English (official), Maori (official)
Official Currency New Zealand Dollar
Religions Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic, others
Land Area 268,670 sq km (103,733 sq miles)
New Zealand is an island nation-state in the south-western Pacific Ocean. The country consists of two major islands and a number of smaller islands. A popular M??ori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa, often translated as "The Land of the Long White Cloud". New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth Realm. New Zealand is responsible for the self-governing states of the Cook Islands and Niue, administers Tokelau, and claims the Ross Dependency.
Geography New Zealand is the most geographically isolated country in the world. Its closest neighbour, Australia, is 2,000 km to the north-west of the main islands, across the Tasman Sea.
New Zealand comprises two main islands and a number of smaller islands. The total land area of New Zealand, 268,680 km??, is somewhat less than that of Japan or of the British Isles, and slightly larger than Colorado in the USA. The usual climate throughout the country is mild, mostly cool temperate to warm temperate, with temperatures rarely falling below 0??C or rising above 30??C.
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Under the New Zealand Royal Titles Act (1953), Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of New Zealand and is represented as head of state by the Governor-General, Dame Silvia Cartwright.
Parliament consists of the unicameral House of Representatives, normally consisting of 120 members, from which an executive Cabinet of about 20 ministers is appointed.
New Zealand has a modern, developed economy. New Zealand has a high standard of living; the country ranks 18th on the 2004 Human Development Index and 15th of The Economist's 2005 world-wide quality-of-life index. Since 1984 successive governments have engaged in major microeconomic restructuring, transforming New Zealand from a highly protectionist and regulated economy to a liberalised free-trade economy. During the late 1980s, the New Zealand Government sold a number of major trading enterprises, including its telecommunications company, railway network, a number of radio stations and two financial institutions in a series of asset sales. Although the New Zealand Government continues to own a number of significant businesses, collectively known as State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), they are operated through arms-length shareholding arrangements as stand-alone businesses that are required to operate profitably, just like any privately owned enterprise.
Culture: New Zealand has a diverse contemporary culture with influences from British, the M??ori,and other European immigrants and most recently Polynesian cultures. There were many people from Scotland amongst the early British settlers and elements of their culture persist; New Zealand is said to have more bagpipe bands than Scotland. Cultural links between New Zealand and the UK are maintained by a common language, sustained migration from the UK and the fact that many young New Zealanders spend time in the UK on their "overseas experience".
The pre-European contact M??ori culture had no metal tools, relying on stone and wood. Modern M??ori do not live a traditional lifestyle. Elements of M??ori culture survive and the Government actively promotes it to all New Zealanders. Use of the M??ori language (Te Reo M??ori) as a living, community language remained only in a few remote areas in the post war years but it is currently going through a renaissance; with generous state support for M??ori language medium schools and a M??ori language television channel.