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New Zealand: a spectacular nature and millions of sheep

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New Zealand (Aotearoa) is a parliamentary monarchy associated with the British Commonwealth. New Zealand is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, about 1,600 km south-east of Australia. It is an archipelago consisting mainly of two large islands. The North Island (117,777 sq km) and the South Island (151,215 sq km), separated from each other by the Cook Strait. Around these two islands there are numerous other smaller archipelagos, among them the largest island, and the third of New Zealand is Stewart Island (1,746 sq km).

The North Island is the most densely populated, the capital Wellington is located here, and Auckland is the largest and most important city in the country. In the South Island the most populous city is Christchurch.

New Zealand directly administers the Tokelau archipelago, located in the Pacific ocean, north of Samoa. In addition to Ross Dependency, in Antarctica. The Cook Islands and Niue Atoll, also in the Pacific, have autonomous government, but are freely associated with New Zealand.


The two main islands are both mountainous. The North Island has numerous volcanic cones, in the center of the island there is a volcanic plateau rich in lakes and volcanic events (geysers, fumaroles and thermal springs), where three active volcanoes rise the Ruapehu (2,797 meters), the Ngauruhoe (2,291 meters) and the Tongariro (1,978 meters). Not far away is Lake Taupo (616 sq km), the largest lake in the country, from the lake also flows the Waikato River (425 km), the longest in New Zealand. A large part of the North Island, however, is made up of hilly terrain suitable for grazing, intensely exploited for sheep breeding. West of the volcanic plateau is the imposing cone of Mount Taranaki or Egmont (2,518 meters), an extinct volcano.

The South Island has very articulated coasts, with numerous fjords and bays both in the northern part (bays) and in the south-western part (fjords). Along the east coast there are vast alluvial plains. The island is crossed, for almost 500 km, from north-east to south-west by the chain of the Southern Alps which in various points exceed 3,000 meters in height. Mount Cook, called in the Maori language Aoraki, “that pierces the clouds”, with its 3,754 meters, is the highest peak in the country. Other notable mountains all in the Southern Alps are Mount Tasman (3,498 meters), Mount Dampier (3,440 meters) and Mount Vancouver (3,309 meters).


The nation’s main economic source is breeding. In fact, in the face of just over 4 million inhabitants, the country has over 40 million sheep, almost 10 million cattle and also pigs, chickens etc. The industry is mainly dedicated to the transformation of agricultural and livestock products. Meat and wool production and the dairy industry remain the most important activities for the New Zealand economy.

Agriculture mainly produces cereals (wheat, barley, corn), vegetables, potatoes, oats, rapeseed, tobacco and fruit (citrus fruits and kiwis). Finally, viticulture is in great development. Among the resources of the subsoil we find coal, lignite, gold, oil and natural gas. The wealth of geothermal and hydroelectric energy sources is remarkable. In recent years, tourism has become increasingly important.

The climate of New Zealand.

  • 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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