Introduction New Zealand, a wealthy Pacific nation, is dominated by two cultural groups: New Zealanders of European descent, and the minority Maori, whose Polynesian ancestors arrived on the islands around 1,000 years ago.

Agriculture is the economic mainstay, but manufacturing and tourism are important and there is a world-class film industry.

New Zealand has diversified its export markets and has developed strong trade links with Australia, the US, and Japan. In April 2008 it became the first Western country to sign a free trade deal with China.

New Zealand has three dependent areas:  Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.

Population Population: 4.3 million (UN, 2010)
Population growth rate: 1.3%
Life expectancy: 79 years (men), 83 years (women) (UN)

Geography New Zealand consists of two large islands, North Island and South Island, plus several smaller ones of which Stewart Island is the largest and often referred to as 'our third island'. North and South Islands are separated by the 32km / 20mile wide Cook Strait. To the north and east lies the Pacific Ocean and between ourselves and Australia lies the Tasman Sea.

The total land area is 270,535 sq Km / 104,453 sq miles.

Religion Christian 55.6%, no religion 34.7%, Hindu 1.5%, Buddhist 1.3%, Islam/Muslim 0.8%, Jewish 0.2%, Spiritualism/New Age 0.5%, other 0.6%.

Government Government type: arliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Anand Satyanand
Prime Minister: John Key

New Zealand has a single chamber of parliament which consists of the House of Representatives, which generally has 120 MPs, and the Governor-General (who does not personally attend the house).  The house is elected for a maximum three-year term using the mixed member proportional (MMP) system.

Economics GDP (purchasing power parity) $115.1 billion (2009 est.)

Health Adult (15-49) HIV/AIDS prevalence %: 0.10%

Legislation http://www.nzlii.org/

Related Websites The World Factbook - New Zealand
UNICEF - New Zealand
World Health Organization - New Zealand