Useful country information
Land area: 103,734 sq mi (268,671 sq km); total area: 103,737 sq mi (268,680 sq km)
Population (2020 est.): 4,822,233 (growth rate: 0.83%); birth rate: 13.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 4.59/1000; life expectancy: 80.93
Capital: Wellington, 212,700 (2017)
Largest cities: Auckland, 1.452 million
Monetary unit: New Zealand dollar
Languages: English (de facto official) 89.8%, Maori (de jure official) 3.5%, Samoan 2%, Hindi 1.6%, French 1.2%, Northern Chinese 1.2%, Yue 1%, Other or not stated 20.5%, New Zealand Sign Language (de jure official)
Ethnicity/race: European 71.2%, Maori 14.1%, Asian 11.3%, Pacific peoples 7.6%, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African 1.1%, other 1.6%, not stated or unidentified 5.4%
Religions: Christian 44.3% (Catholic 11.6%, Anglican 10.8%, Presbyterian and Congregational 7.8%, Methodist, 2.4%, Pentecostal 1.8%, other 9.9%), Hindu 2.1%, Buddhist 1.4%, Maori Christian 1.3%, Islam 1.1%, other religion 1.4% (includes Judaism, Spiritualism and New Age religions, Baha'i, Asian religions other than Buddhism), no religion 38.5%, not stated or unidentified 8.2%, objected to answering 4.1%
National Holiday: Waitangi Day, February 6
Literacy rate: 99% (2003 est.)
The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European who reached New Zealand in 1642. British explorer Captain James Cook mapped the islands in 1769.
In the early 19th century, missionaries began settling on the islands and attempting to convert Māori to Christianity and control the considerably lawless European visitors.
In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain (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 Maori 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 several defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.
(Source: The World Factbook and others)
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