New Zealand is a wealthy Pacific nation dominated by two cultural groups: New Zealanders of European descent; and the Maori, the descendants of Polynesian settlers.
It is made up of two main islands and numerous smaller ones. Around three-quarters of the population lives on the North Island, which is also home to the capital, Wellington.
Agriculture is the economic mainstay, but manufacturing and tourism are important. Visitors are drawn to the glacier-carved mountains, lakes, beaches and thermal springs. Because of the islands’ geographical isolation, much of the flora and fauna is unique to the country.
New Zealand plays an active role in Pacific affairs. It has constitutional ties with the Pacific territories of Niue, the Cook Islands and Tokelau.
- New Zealand
- Capital: Wellington
- Population 4.5 million
- Area 270,534 sq km (104,454 sq miles)
- Major languagesEnglish, Maori
- Major religion Christianity
- Life expectancy 79 years (men), 83 years (women)
- Currency New Zealand dollar