New Zealand is comparable in size to the United Kingdom or the Philippines. Nowhere is more than 130km from the sea. The climate is generally temperate, although the far north can experience subtropical weather during the summer (December – March) and the inland alpine areas of the South Island can experience severe frosts in winter (June – August).
New Zealand became a British colony in 1840. In that year, more than 500 Māori chiefs and representatives of Queen Victoria signed the Treaty of Waitangi. The Treaty is the country’s founding document and was a political compact between Māori and British settlers to build a government in New Zealand. The Māori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa (‘land of the long white cloud’). New Zealand was named by the first recorded European to visit New Zealand, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, in 1642.
New Zealand has a market economy based largely on tourism and primary industries like agriculture. It depends heavily on international trade, mainly with Australia, China, the United States, and Japan. Economic free-market reforms since the 1980s have removed many barriers to foreign investment. New Zealanders are generally well-educated, healthy, and have a comfortable standard of living.
Gross domestic product by industry (in 1995/96 prices)
Finance, insurance, and business services
Personal and community services
Transport and communication
Retail, accommodation, and restaurants
Government, administration, and defence
Fishing, forestry, and mining
Electricity, gas, and water
Gross domestic product