New Zealand map
map with New Zealand highlighted
New Zealand is unusual in world terms as it is
one of the few nations without any bordering neighbours.
A collection of islands in the South Pacific
Ocean, it lies between latitudes 34º and 47º south, with
its nearest neighbour - Australia - roughly the same distance away
as New York is from Chicago - but in this case separated by the
waters of the Tasman Sea.
Around 1600km in length and no wider than 300km,
almost all the 268,680 sq.km of land mass is in the two main islands
- imaginatively called the North Island and the South Island! The
landscape is hugely varied, from the glaciers and huge Southern
Alps mountain range of the South Island through to the active volcanoes,
geothermal fields and island-studded bays and harbours of the North
Island. It's this variety, packed into a relatively small area,
that has helped make New Zealand such a popular tourist destination
- and more recently, a mecca for film producers (witness the huge
interest in the film trilogy The
Lord of the Rings, filmed throughout the country).
New Zealand was settled by Maori more than 1000
years ago following giant canoe migrations from central Pacific
islands. The first known European discoverer was Abel Tasman in
1642. He named the country Staten Landt, later renamed Nieuw Zeeland.
European settlement didnt begin until 1792 following mapping of
the coastline by english explorer James Cook during the late 18th
The country's isolation has meant a unique array
of native flora and fauna have developed. Visitors can still see
primeval forests the likes of which have died out elsewhere in the
world, and our indigenous species include the flighless Kiwi bird,
the dinosaur-relative Tuatara, the world's heaviest insect (Weta),
and the world's largest parrot (Kakapo).
Historically, New Zealand has often been at the
forefront of social change, being the first nation to give women
the vote (1893) and the first to provide state-funded old age pensions
(1898). Universal social security was introduced in 1938. It was
a New Zealander - Sir Ernest Rutherford - who was the first person
to split the atom, and another - Sir Edmund Hillary - was was first
to climb Mt Everest.
New Zealand's currency is the New Zealand dollar.
Being close to the International Date Line, our time zone is Greenwich
Mean Time +12 hours. English is the most widely spoken language.
For more detailed information on New Zealand visit: purenz.com
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