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New Zealand

article pages New Zealand:
about New Zealand
culture and sport
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fauna and flora

About New Zealand

New Zealand is a country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two large islands (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands.

In Maori, New Zealand has come to be known as Aotearoa, which is usually translated into English as The Land of the Long White Cloud.

The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are self-governing but in free association; Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica).

Map of New Zealand
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map of New Zealand
Largest cityAuckland
Official languagesEnglish, Maori, NZ Sign Language
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy
Head of StateQueen Elizabeth II
Governor-GeneralAnand Satyanand
Prime MinisterJohn Key
Land Area268,680 km² (103,738 sq mi)
Population4,143,2796 (2006)
Density15 /km² (39 /sq mi)
CurrencyNew Zealand dollar (NZD)
Calling code+64

New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, being separated from Australia to the northwest by the Tasman Sea, approximately 2000 kilometres (1250 miles) across. Its closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.

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New Zealand is part of Zealandia, a continent that is 93% submerged. Zealandia is almost half the size of Australia and is unusually long and narrow. About 25 million years ago, a shift in plate tectonic movements began to pull Zealandia apart forcefully. The submerged parts of Zealandia include the Lord Howe Rise, Challenger Plateau, Campbell Plateau, Norfolk Ridge and the Chatham Rise.

New Zealand Climate

The climate throughout the country is mild and temperate, mainly maritime, with temperatures rarely falling below 0°C (32°F) or rising above 30°C (86°F) in populated areas. Conditions vary sharply across regions from extremely wet on the West Coast of the South Island to semi-arid in the Mackenzie Basin of inland Canterbury and subtropical in Northland. Of the main cities, Christchurch is the driest, receiving only some 640 mm (25 in) of rain per year. Auckland, the wettest, receives almost twice that amount. Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch all receive on average in excess of 2000 hours of sunshine per annum.

New Zealand Tourism

New Zealand receives two million tourists per year. New Zealand is marketed as a "clean, green" adventure playground.

The vast majority of tourist arrivals in New Zealand come through Auckland International Airport which handled over eleven million passengers in 2004.

Most popular destinations include Rotorua, Waitomo Caves, Milford Sound, and Queenstown.


New Zealand Government
Tourism New Zealand
Statistics New Zealand
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Meteorological Service of New Zealand Limited


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