Introduction    New Zealand Top of Page
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights. In that same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both World Wars. New Zealand's full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.
   Geography    New Zealand Top of Page
Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia
Geographic coordinates:
41 00 S, 174 00 E
Map references:
total: 268,680 sq km
land: 268,021 sq km
water: NA
note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands
Area - comparative:
about the size of Colorado
Land boundaries:
0 km
15,134 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
temperate with sharp regional contrasts
predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Aoraki-Mount Cook 3,754 m
Natural resources:
natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, limestone
Land use:
arable land: 5.54%
permanent crops: 6.92%
other: 87.54% (2005)
Irrigated land:
2,850 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
397 cu km (1995)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 2.11 cu km/yr (48%/9%/42%)
per capita: 524 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion; native flora and fauna hard-hit by invasive species
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Antarctic Seals, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
about 80% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world
   People    New Zealand Top of Page
4,213,418 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.7% (male 447,174/female 424,522)
15-64 years: 66.5% (male 1,404,143/female 1,399,530)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 244,986/female 293,063) (2009 est.)
Median age:
total: 36.6 years
male: 35.8 years
female: 37.4 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.935% (2009 est.)
Birth rate:
13.94 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate:
7 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
2.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
urban population: 87% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 4.92 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 80.36 years
male: 78.43 years
female: 82.39 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.1 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
1,400 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
noun: New Zealander(s)
adjective: New Zealand
Ethnic groups:
European 69.8%, Maori 7.9%, Asian 5.7%, Pacific islander 4.4%, other 0.5%, mixed 7.8%, unspecified 3.8% (2001 census)
Anglican 14.9%, Roman Catholic 12.4%, Presbyterian 10.9%, Methodist 2.9%, Pentecostal 1.7%, Baptist 1.3%, other Christian 9.4%, other 3.3%, unspecified 17.2%, none 26% (2001 census)
English (official), Maori (official), Sign Language (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (2003 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 19 years
male: 19 years
female: 20 years (2006)
Education expenditures:
6.2% of GDP (2006)
   Government    New Zealand Top of Page
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: New Zealand
abbreviation: NZ
Government type:
parliamentary democracy and a Commonwealth realm
name: Wellington
geographic coordinates: 41 28 S, 174 51 E
time difference: UTC+12 (17 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in September; ends first Sunday in April
note: New Zealand is divided into two time zones - New Zealand standard time (12 hours in advance of UTC), and Chatham Islands time (45 minutes in advance of New Zealand standard time)
Administrative divisions:
16 regions and 1 territory*; Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Chatham Islands*, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu-Wanganui, Marlborough, Nelson, Northland, Otago, Southland, Taranaki, Tasman, Waikato, Wellington, West Coast
Dependent areas:
Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau
26 September 1907 (from the UK)
National holiday:
Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840); ANZAC Day (commemorated as the anniversary of the landing of troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I at Gallipoli, Turkey), 25 April (1915)
consists of a series of legal documents, including certain acts of the UK and New Zealand Parliaments, as well as The Constitution Act 1986, which is the principal formal charter; adopted 1 January 1987, effective 1 January 1987
Legal system:
based on English law, with special land legislation and land courts for the Maori; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Anand SATYANAND (since 23 August 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister John KEY (since 19 November 2008); Deputy Prime Minister Bill ENGLISH (since 19 November 2008)
cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general
Legislative branch:
unicameral House of Representatives - commonly called Parliament (usually 120 seats; 69 members elected by popular vote in single-member constituencies including 7 Maori constituencies, and 51 proportional seats chosen from party lists; serve three-year terms)
elections: last held 8 November 2008 (next to be held not later than 27 November 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NP 44.9%, NZLP 34%, Green Party 6.7%, NZ First 4%, ACT New Zealand 3.7%, Maori 2.4%, Progressive 0.9%, UF 0.9%, other 6.6%; seats by party - NP 58, NZLP 43, Green Party 9, ACT New Zealand 5, Maori 5, Progressive 1, UF 1
note: results of 2008 election saw the total number of seats increase to 122
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Court of Appeal; High Court; note - judges appointed by the governor general
Political parties and leaders:
ACT New Zealand [Rodney HIDE]; Green Party [Jeanette FITZSIMONS]; Maori Party [Tariana TURIA and Pita SHARPLES]; National Party or NP [John KEY]; New Zealand First Party or NZ First [Winston PETERS]; New Zealand Labor Party or NZLP [Phil GOFF]; Progressive Party [James (Jim) ANDERTON]; United Future or UF [Peter DUNNE]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Women's Electoral Lobby or WEL
other: apartheid groups; civil rights groups; farmers groups; Maori; nuclear weapons groups; women's rights groups
International organization participation:
ADB, ANZUS (US suspended security obligations to NZ on 11 August 1986), APEC, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, C, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, NAM (guest), NSG, OECD, OPCW, PCA, PIF, Sparteca, SPC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIS, UNMIT, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roy N. FERGUSON
chancery: 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-4800
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5227
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William P. McCORMICK
embassy: 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington
mailing address: P. O. Box 1190, Wellington; PSC 467, Box 1, APO AP 96531-1034
telephone: [64] (4) 462-6000
FAX: [64] (4) 499-0490
consulate(s) general: Auckland
Flag description:
blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant with four red five-pointed stars edged in white centered in the outer half of the flag; the stars represent the Southern Cross constellation
Government - note:
while not an official symbol, the Kiwi, a small native flightless bird, represents New Zealand
   Economy    New Zealand Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Over the past 20 years the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally. This dynamic growth has boosted real incomes - but left behind some at the bottom of the ladder - and broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector. Per capita income has risen for nine consecutive years and reached $28,500 in 2008 in purchasing power parity terms. Debt-driven consumer spending drove robust growth in the first half of the decade, helping fuel a large balance of payments deficit that posed a challenge for economic managers. Inflationary pressures caused the central bank to raise its key rate steadily from January 2004 until it was among the highest in the OECD in 2007-2008; international capital inflows attracted to the high rates further strengthened the currency and housing market, however, aggravating the current account deficit. The economy fell into recession in 2008, and in line with global peers, the central bank has cut interest rates aggressively; the new government is responding with plans to raise productivity growth and develop infrastructure.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$116.6 billion (2008 est.)
$116.3 billion (2007)
$112.8 billion (2006)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$135.7 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.2% (2008 est.)
3.1% (2007 est.)
2% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$27,900 (2008 est.)
$28,200 (2007 est.)
$27,600 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 4.4%
industry: 26%
services: 69.6% (2008 est.)
Labor force:
2.26 million (2008 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 7%
industry: 19%
services: 74% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate:
4% (2008 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: %NA
highest 10%: %NA
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
36.2 (1997)
Investment (gross fixed):
23.6% of GDP (2008 est.)
revenues: $55.1 billion
expenditures: $54.66 billion (2008 est.)
Public debt:
22.9% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
4.3% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
8.25% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12.83% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$24.2 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$117.8 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$200.1 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$47.45 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
dairy products, lamb and mutton; wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, fruits, vegetables; wool, beef; fish
food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, mining
Industrial production growth rate:
-1.2% (2008 est.)
Electricity - production:
42.41 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
38.93 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production:
47,850 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
158,400 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - exports:
14,570 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - imports:
137,300 bbl/day (2005)
Oil - proved reserves:
55 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas - production:
4.573 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
4.572 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
29.67 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance:
-$9.047 billion (2008 est.)
$29.53 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
dairy products, meat, wood and wood products, fish, machinery
Exports - partners:
Australia 22%, US 11.5%, Japan 9.2%, China 5.3%, UK 4.6% (2007)
$31.11 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, vehicles and aircraft, petroleum, electronics, textiles, plastics
Imports - partners:
Australia 20.7%, China 13.4%, US 9.7%, Japan 9.5%, Singapore 4.9%, Germany 4.7% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$15.25 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$59.08 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$72.41 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
Exchange rates:
New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar - 1.4151 (2008 est.), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004)
   Communications    New Zealand Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.706 million (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
4.245 million (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: excellent domestic and international systems
domestic: NA
international: country code - 64; the Southern Cross submarine cable system provides links to Australia, Fiji, and the US; satellite earth stations - 8 (1 Inmarsat - Pacific Ocean, 7 other)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 124, FM 290, shortwave 4 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
41 (plus about 700 repeaters) (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
1.72 million (2008)
Internet users:
3.36 million (2007)
   Transportation    New Zealand Top of Page
121 (2008)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 41
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 25
under 914 m: 1 (2008)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 80
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 31
under 914 m: 46 (2008)
condensate 331 km; gas 1,838 km; liquid petroleum gas 172 km; oil 288 km; refined products 198 km (2008)
total: 4,128 km
narrow gauge: 4,128 km 1.067-m gauge (506 km electrified) (2006)
total: 93,576 km
paved: 61,564 km (includes 172 km of expressways)
unpaved: 32,012 km (2006)
Merchant marine:
total: 13
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 2, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 3 (Australia 1, Germany 1, South Africa 1)
registered in other countries: 5 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Cook Islands 1, France 1, UK 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Auckland, Lyttelton, Marsden Point, Tauranga, Wellington, Whangarei
   Military    New Zealand Top of Page
Military branches:
New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF): New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Navy, Royal New Zealand Air Force (2009)
Military service age and obligation:
17 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed until the age of 18; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 1,009,298
females age 16-49: 997,134 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 837,553
females age 16-49: 825,981 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 31,461
female: 29,809 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures:
1% of GDP (2005 est.)
   Transnational Issues    New Zealand Top of Page
Disputes - international:
asserts a territorial claim in Antarctica (Ross Dependency)
Illicit drugs:
significant consumer of amphetamines

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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