New Zealand (Mori: Aotearoa [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa]) is a nation in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It is made up of two major landmasses, North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) and South Island (Te Waipounamu), as well as around 700 smaller islands. It is the sixth-largest island nation in terms of land size, with 268,021 square kilometers (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is located about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of the islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. The diverse geography and steep mountain peaks of the nation, notably the Southern Alps, are mostly due to tectonic uplift and volcanic eruptions. Wellington is New Zealand's capital city, while Auckland is its most populated city.
New Zealand's islands were the last significant livable continent to be colonized by humans due to their remoteness. Polynesians started to settle on the islands between 1280 and 1350, developing a unique Mori culture. Abel Tasman, a Dutch adventurer, was the first European to glimpse and document New Zealand in 1642. In 1840, delegates from the United Kingdom and Mori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which established British control over the islands in its English translation. New Zealand became a colony of the British Empire in 1841, then a dominion in 1907; it obtained full formal independence in 1947, with the British queen remaining the head of state. Today, the bulk of New Zealand's 5.1 million people are of European heritage; the indigenous Mori are the biggest group, followed by Asians and Pacific Islanders. As a result, New Zealand's culture is mostly rooted from Mori and early British immigrants, with modern cultural expansion resulting from greater immigration. English, Mori, and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages, with the local version of English dominating.
New Zealand, a developed country, rates well in worldwide assessments of national performance in areas such as quality of life, education, civil liberties protection, government openness, and economic independence. During the 1980s, New Zealand saw significant economic reforms that turned it from a protectionist to a liberalized free-trade economy. The national economy is dominated by the service sector, which is followed by the industrial sector and agriculture. International tourism is another important source of income. Nationally, legislative power is held by an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is held by the Cabinet, which is headed by the prime minister, presently Jacinda Ardern. The queen of the nation is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented by the governor-general. In addition, for local government reasons, New Zealand is divided into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities. Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing nations in free association with New Zealand); and the Ross Dependency, New Zealand's Antarctic territorial claim, are all included in the Realm of New Zealand.
New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Community, and the Pacific Islands Forum.