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Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Wellington
Area: 270,534 sq km; 104,454 sq miles
Population: 3,697,850 (2000 Estimate)
Urbanisation: Urban 86 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 14 per cent (1998 Estimate)


Exports: Wool, lamb, mutton, beef, fish, cheese, chemicals, forestry products, fruits and vegetables, manufactured items, dairy products, wood

Industry: Food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transport equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, mining

Agriculture: Livestock dominates: wool, meat, dairy products; crops: wheat, barley, potatoes, pulses, fruits, vegetables

Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZ$), consisting of 100 cents

Natural resources: Natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydroelectric power, gold, limestone


The people

Ethnic: European 73 per cent, Maori 12 per cent, Pacific Islander 4 per cent, Asian 5 per cent, Other 6 per cent

Language: English (official), Maori (official). English and Maori are the official languages of New Zealand. Almost all Maori speak English and use the Maori language primarily for ceremonies and other special occasions. However, English has adopted many Maori words. For example, the word kiwi, which refers to a native bird, can also mean a New Zealander; and a white person is a pakeha (a Maori word meaning "fair skinned").

Religion: Anglican 22 per cent, Presbyterian 16 per cent, Roman Catholic 15 per cent, Other Christian 10 per cent, Non-religious 21 per cent. Over half the population (58 per cent) is nominally Christian, although relatively few people are regular churchgoers. There are about one-third as many Anglicans as there are Roman Catholics. Other denominations include the Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches. About 1 per cent of the people are Hindu or Buddhist.


The history

Independence: 26 September 1907 (from United Kingdom)

Government: New Zealand is an independent parliamentary democracy, but it is also a member of the Commonwealth and as such, recognises Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. A Governor-General represents her in the country. The executive head of Government is the Prime Minister, who is the leader of the majority party or majority coalition in parliament. Members of the cabinet are also chosen from parliament. The unicameral legislature is officially called the House of Representatives, but is referred to as the parliament. Several seats in the House are reserved for Maori representatives. The voting age is 18. The vote was extended to women in 1893.

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