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New Zealand: a spectacular nature and millions of sheep

New Zealand (New Zealand, Aotearoa) is a parliamentary monarchy associated with the British Commonwealth. New Zealand is located in the South Pacific, about 1,600 km south-east of Australia, it’s an archipelago formed mainly by two large islands, North Island (117,777 sq km) and the South Island (151,215 sq km), separated between them by the Strait of Cook, around these two islands are many other smaller islands, among them the largest, and the third of New Zealand is Stewart Island (1,746 sq km). North Island is the most densely populated, here are the capital Wellington, and Auckland the largest city in the country, in the South Island the most populous city is Christchurch.

New Zealand also includes the archipelago of Tokelau, located in the Pacific, north of Samoa, and the Ross Dependency, in Antarctica. The Cook Islands and Niue Atoll, also in the Pacific, have self-government, but are freely associated with New Zealand.

The two largest islands are both mountainous, North Island has many volcanic cones, in the middle of the island lies a plateau rich in volcanic lakes and volcanic events (geysers, thermal springs and fumaroles), where three active volcanoes rise Ruapehu (2,797 metres), Ngauruhoe (2,291 meters) and Tongariro (1,978 meters), not far is Lake Taupo (616 sq km), the largest lake in the country, from the lake flows the Waikato River (425 km), the longest river in New Zealand. Good part of the North Island is made up of hilly land suitable for pasture, intensively exploited for the breeding of sheep. To the west of the volcanic Plateau is the impressive cone of Mount Taranaki or Egmont (2,518 metres), an extinct volcano.

South Island coastline is very articulate, with many fjords in the northern part and also in the south-west side, while along the east coast are vast floodplains. The island is crossed, for nearly 500 km, from north-east to south-west from Southern Alps chain, which at various points exceeding 3,000 meters high, Mount Cook, called Aoraki in Maori language, “Cloud Piercer”, with its 3,754 meters is the highest peak in the country, several other major mountains are in the Southern Alps they are: Mount Tasman (3,498 meters), Mount Dampier (3,440 meters) and Mount Vancouver (3,309 metres).

The main economic source of the nation is farming, the country compared with just over 4 million people has more than 40 million sheep, nearly 10 million cattle and also pigs, chickens, etc.. The industry is mainly devoted to the processing of agricultural products and livestock, the production of meat and wool, and the dairy industry remain the most important for New Zealand economy. Agriculture produces cereals (wheat, barley, maize), vegetables, potatoes, oats, rapeseed, tobacco and fruit (citrus and kiwi), great development has viticulture. Among the resources of the subsoil are coal, lignite, gold, oil and natural gas. Remarkable wealth of geothermal energy and hydropower. In recent years increasingly important has become tourism.

  • Area: 270,534 sqkm. (Arable 14%, Pastures 50%, Forests and Woodlands 28%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 8%)
  • Population: 4,239,000 (2007 data) (Europeans 78,7%, Maori 14,6%, Asian 9,2%, Inhabitants of the Pacific Islands 6,9% (Census 2006)).
  • State Capital: Wellington.
  • Languages: English is the official language. Spoken is Maori (4,1%).
  • Religion: Christian 55,6% (Anglican 18,4%, Catholic 13,8%, Presbyterian 13,4%, Methodist 3,5%, Baptist 1,6%), Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim.
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD).
  • Time: UTC +12 hours (Summer: UTC +13 hours).

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