New Zealand is an independent state and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is situated to the south-east of Australia; the distance between Australia and New Zealand is 2000 kilometres. It consists of two large islands: North Island, South Island, and two small ones: Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands and several island groups. The main islands are separated by Cook Strait. New Zealand is an island country, it is washed by the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The country occupies 103,736 square miles, its population is about 3,5 million people.
The majority of the population are of British origin, but there are also small groups of the Chinese, Indians, Greeks, and Poles. The Maoris, a Polynesian people, are the aborigines of New Zealand. The number of Maoris is about 8 per cent now, they speak their national language and have their own national culture.
English is the official language of the country. New Zealand has a wet, subtropical climate. As New Zealand lies south of the equator, seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is from December to February, winter from June to August. Temperatures are generally warmer in the north than in the south. The average temperature in summer is +19° C in the south and +23° C in the north; in winter it is +6° C in the south and +8° C in the north. New Zealand’s climate is pleasant in all seasons, there is no much difference between winter and summer. There are a lot of sunny days, but much rain falls on the west coast. Winter brings much snow in the Southern Alps.
There are two New Zealands and New Zealanders say that North Island means beaches and South Island means mountains.
South Island is much more mountainous, without recent volcanic activity. The Southern Alps running along South Island contain 17 peaks of 3000 metres, the highest top is Mount Cook, it is 3754 metres high. The central part of the island is a high volcanic plateau, where the most of the population live. You can find on the island many volcanoes (the Egmont is one of the largest), geysers (the Great Berta is 15 metres high), boiling pools and ribbon lakes. The nature of South Island is very beautiful with its Alps and lakes, with one of the most attractive and highest waterfalls in the world. The Sunderland Falls is 600 metres high. The North Island’s main mountains are all volcanoes. Volcanic action still continues. Earthquakes are frequent here. Every year there are over 100 earthquakes.
There are many lakes in New Zealand, the largest is Lake Taupo. The main rivers of the country are the Waikato, the Rangitata, the Clutha. The rivers are mostly swift-flowing, shallow and only few are navigable. New Zealand plant life is remarkable. The vegetation of the country has great variety. It has evergreen plants such as pine, fern, moss, eucalyptus. Fern is a floral symbol of New Zealand and New Zealander is often called a Fernleaf. Forests of exotic pines occupy 4 thousand hectares. This is the largest area of planted forests in the world. Pine in New Zealand grows five times faster than in the USA.
The country has 13 national parks. The fauna is not very rich. There are few native animals in the country. Many were resettled, some of which are the rabbit, deer, wild bore, fox, hedgehog, wild cat, rat. The whales and dolphins may be seen in various parts of the coast.
The bird life of New Zealand is rather rich. You can see a lot of birds of bright colours: the duck, black swan (nearly 10 thousand on one lake), dove, caca (New Zealand parrot), albatross (sea gull), and others. New Zealand is a paradise for birds. The most interesting bird of the country is the kiwi which you can see only in this country. This bird has no tail, no wings, it can’t fly. This bird became the emblem of the country. In many countries New Zealanders are known as Kiwis.
The capital of the country is Wellington (350 th.). It is a great port, the university city, and also financial, commercial and transport centre of the country. The other main ports are Auckland and Christchurch . New Zealand is rich in natural resources, but few have been extensively exploited. The country is rich in coal, natural gas, timber, iron ores, uranium, oil, gold, aluminium. The most significant feature of New Zealand’s industry in recent years is the development of heavy industry. Oil refinery and aluminium plants, steel mills are in operation now. Woodworking, pulp and paper industries are highly developed too. The country has a lot of power stations. Coal is exported to Japan and Korea.
New Zealand’s climate with rainfalls all the year round is very favourable for dairying, sheep-farming and cattle-farming. The country exports meat, fish, fruit, honey. New Zealand is the second exporter of wool after Australia. Tourism now is the important sector of the country’s economy. New Zealand is famous for its fishing, snow sports, mountaineering, sailing, and hiking.
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy. It is a member of the Commonwealth. Formally the head of the country is the Queen of England, represented by the Governor-General appointed for a period of 5 years. The country has no Constitution. The Parliament consists of one House only, the House of Representatives. The 120 members of the Parliament are elected by the population for a period of 3″ years. The Prime Minister is the head of the Parliament. The main political parties are the Labour Party, the National Party of New Zealand. The flag of New Zealand has two main features: red, white and blue Union Jack is in the upper left quarter and four-star Southern Cross is in the right half.
The official New Zealand coat -of-arms depicts a white woman and a Maori man standing on leaves of ferns and looking at each other over a shield with five badges. Five badges on a shield represent three sailing vessels, the Southern Cross, a wheat sheaf, two mining hammers and a fleece; shield supports Crown of St. Edward. It was adopted in 1956. The national anthem of the country is “God Defend New Zealand”.