New Zealand is situated in the southwest pacific, 2,200km from Australia. New Zealand has two main islands – the North Island (115,000 sq km) and South Island (151,000 sq km) and a number of smaller islands, including Bushclad Steward Island (1700 sq km). The country is famous for its natural beauty and scenic attractions, from snow-capped mountains, glaciers and fiords to thermal geysers, volcanoes, sub-tropical rainforests and magnificent sandy beaches.
New Zealand is about the same size as the United Kingdom. The two main island stretch 1600km but are only 5 to 450km wide and separated by the 20km Cook Strait. Smaller islands include Steward Chatham, Mana, and the Subantarctic islands.
Over 75 percent of New Zealand is at least 200m above sea level with Mount Cook, at 3754m, being the highest point. Mount Hikurangi on the East Cape is the first mainland point to receive each day's sun. The Chatham Islands, 800km east of Christchurch, are the first inhabited land on earth to see the sun.
New Zealand is an independent nation and a member of the British Commonwealth. The total population of New Zealand is 4.4 million. The majority of New Zealanders are of British descent, and the largest minority is New Zealand's indigenous Maori who make up around 15 percent of the population. English is the common and everyday language of New Zealand.
Over the past 20 years, the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialised, free market economy that can complete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes, broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Per capital income has risen for six consecutive years and is now more than $23,000 in purchasing power parity terms. New Zealand is heavily dependent on trade - particularly in agricultural products - to drive growth.