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. 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. New Zealand assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2015-16 term.



Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia

Geographic coordinates

41 00 S, 174 00 E

Map references



total: 268,838 sq km
land: 264,537 sq km
water: 4,301 sq km
note: includes Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands

Area - comparative

almost twice the size of North Carolina; 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 large coastal plains


mean elevation: 388 m
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

agricultural land: 43.2%
arable land 1.8%; permanent crops 0.3%; permanent pasture 41.1%
forest: 31.4%
other: 25.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

7,210 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity
volcanism: significant volcanism on North Island; Ruapehu (elev. 2,797 m), which last erupted in 2007, has a history of large eruptions in the past century; Taranaki has the potential to produce dangerous avalanches and lahars; other historically active volcanoes include Okataina, Raoul Island, Tongariro, and White Island

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

almost 90% of the population lives in cities; Wellington is the southernmost national capital in the world

People and Society

Ethnic groups

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%
note: based on the 2013 census of the usually resident population; percentages add up to more than 100% because respondents were able to identify more than one ethnic group (2013 est.)


4,474,549 (July 2016 est.)


noun: New Zealander(s)
adjective: New Zealand


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)
note: shares sum to 120.8% due to multiple responses on census (2013 est.)


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%
note: based on the 2013 census of the usually resident population; percentages add up to more than 100% because people were able to identify more than one religion (2013 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.76% (male 452,810/female 431,198)
15-24 years: 13.56% (male 312,032/female 294,662)
25-54 years: 40.05% (male 897,549/female 894,394)
55-64 years: 11.7% (male 255,381/female 268,012)
65 years and over: 14.94% (male 308,949/female 359,562) (2016 est.)

Birth rate

13.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 54%
youth dependency ratio: 31.1%
elderly dependency ratio: 22.9%
potential support ratio: 4.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 37.8 years
male: 36.9 years
female: 38.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.8% (2016 est.)

Death rate

7.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

2.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 86.3% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.05% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

Auckland 1.344 million; WELLINGTON (capital) 383,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

11 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 4.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81.2 years
male: 79.1 years
female: 83.3 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.03 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

11% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

2.74 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

2.3 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Obesity - adult prevalence rate

30.6% (2014)

Education expenditures

6.3% of GDP (2014)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 19 years
male: 18 years
female: 20 years (2014)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth (2009 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 15%
male: 14.3%
female: 15.8% (2014 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: New Zealand
abbreviation: NZ
etymology: Dutch explorer Abel TASMAN was the first European to reach New Zealand in 1642; he named it Staten Landt, but Dutch cartographers renamed it Nova Zeelandia in 1645 after the Dutch province of Zeeland; British explorer Captain James COOK subsequently anglicized the name to New Zealand when he mapped the islands in 1769

Government type

parliamentary democracy (New Zealand Parliament) under a constitutional monarchy; a Commonwealth realm


name: Wellington
geographic coordinates: 41 18 S, 174 47 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 has 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)


Constitution Act 1986 (the principal formal charter) adopted and effective 1 January 1987; amended 1999, 2005, 2014 (2016)

Legal system

common law system, based on English model, with special legislation and land courts for the Maori

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of New Zealand
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 3 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor General Dame Patricia Lee REDDY (since 28 September 2016)
head of government: Prime Minister Simon William "Bill" ENGLISH (since 12 December 2016); December 2016; Deputy Prime Minister Paula BENNETT (since 12 December 2016); note - Prime Minister John KEY (since 19 November 2008) resigned effective 12 December 2016
cabinet: Executive Council appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the governor general; deputy prime minister appointed by the governor general

Legislative branch

description: unicameral House of Representatives - commonly called Parliament (usually 120 seats; 70 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies, including 7 Maori constituencies, by simple majority vote and 50 directly elected by proportional representation vote; members serve 3-year terms)
elections: last held on 20 September 2014 (next to be held by September 2017)
election results: percent of vote by party - National Party 47%, Labor Party 25.1%, Green Party 10.7%, NZ First 8.7%, Maori 1.3%, ACT Party .7%, United Future .2%, other 6.3%; seats by party - National Party 60, Labor Party 32, Green Party 14, NZ First 11, Maori 2, ACT Party 1, United Future 1

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 5 justices including the chief justice); note - the Supreme Court in 2004 replaced the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as the final appeals court
judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the attorney-general; justices appointed for life
subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court; tribunals and authorities; district courts; specialized courts for issues related to employment, environment, Maori lands, and military

Political parties and leaders

ACT New Zealand [Rodney HIDE]
Green Party [Russel NORMAN and Metiria TUREI]
Jim Anderton's Progressive Party [James (Jim) ANDERTON]
Mana Party [Hone HARAWIRA]
Maori Party [Tariana TURIA and Dr. Pita SHARPLES]
New Zealand First Party or NZ First [Winston PETERS]
New Zealand Labor Party [Phil GOFF]
New Zealand National Party [John KEY]
United Future New Zealand [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, CD, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), MIGA, NSG, OECD, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club (associate), PCA, PIF, SICA (observer), Sparteca, SPC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMISS, UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Timothy John GROSER (since 28 January 2016)
chancery: 37 Observatory Circle NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 328-4800
FAX: [1] (202) 667-5227[1] (202) 667-5227
consulate(s) general: Honolulu (HI), Los Angeles, New York

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

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Mark GILBERT (since 9 February 2015) note - also accredited to Samoa
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

National symbol(s)

Southern Cross constellation (four, five-pointed stars), kiwi (bird), silver fern; national colors: black, white, red (ochre)

National anthem

name: "God Defend New Zealand"
lyrics/music: Thomas BRACKEN [English], Thomas Henry SMITH [Maori]/John Joseph WOODS
note: adopted 1940 as national song, adopted 1977 as co-national anthem; New Zealand has two national anthems with equal status; as a commonwealth realm, in addition to "God Defend New Zealand," "God Save the Queen" serves as a national anthem (see United Kingdom); "God Save the Queen" normally played only when a member of the royal family or the governor-general is present; in all other cases, "God Defend New Zealand" is played


Economy - overview

Over the past 30 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 in

Per capita income rose for ten consecutive years until 2007 in purchasing power parity terms, but fell in 2008-09. Debt-driven consumer spending drove robust growth in the first half of the decade, fueling a large balance of payments deficit that posed a

The economy fell into recession before the start of the global financial crisis and contracted for five consecutive quarters in 2008-09. In line with global peers, the central bank cut interest rates aggressively and the government developed fiscal stimul

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$174.8 billion (2016 est.)
$170.1 billion (2015 est.)
$165.2 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Population below poverty line


GDP (official exchange rate)

$179.4 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.8% (2016 est.)
3% (2015 est.)
3% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$37,100 (2016 est.)
$36,600 (2015 est.)
$36,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

20.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
19.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
19.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 57.4%
government consumption: 18.5%
investment in fixed capital: 23.5%
investment in inventories: 0.3%
exports of goods and services: 26.7%
imports of goods and services: -26.4% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4.2%
industry: 26.5%
services: 69.2% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

dairy products, sheep, beef, poultry, fruit, vegetables, wine, seafood, wheat and barley


agriculture, forestry, fishing, logs and wood articles, manufacturing, mining, construction, financial services, real estate services, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

2.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

2.562 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 7%
industry: 19%
services: 74% (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate

5.1% (2016 est.)
5.4% (2015 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index

36.2 (1997)


revenues: $67.61 billion
expenditures: $67.01 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

37.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

0.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

34% of GDP (2016 est.)
35% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March
note: this is the fiscal year for tax purposes

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.6% (2016 est.)
0.3% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

2.5% (31 December 2009)
5% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

5% (31 December 2016 est.)
5.76% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$34.99 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$31.58 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$115 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$102.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$373.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$342.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$74.35 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$74.42 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$65.96 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Current account balance

-$5.385 billion (2016 est.)
-$5.594 billion (2015 est.)


$31.96 billion (2016 est.)
$34.41 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

dairy products, meat and edible offal, logs and wood articles, fruit, crude oil, wine

Exports - partners

China 17.5%, Australia 16.9%, US 11.8%, Japan 6% (2015)


$34.83 billion (2016 est.)
$35.8 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

petroleum and products, mechanical machinery, vehicles and parts, electrical machinery, textiles

Imports - partners

China 19.4%, Australia 11.8%, US 11.7%, Japan 6.6%, Germany 4.7%, Thailand 4.2% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$18.55 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$14.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$81.39 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$83.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$71.19 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$74.17 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$59.08 billion (31 December 2009)

Exchange rates

New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar -
1.441 (2016 est.)
1.4279 (2015 est.)
1.4279 (2014 est.)
1.2039 (2013 est.)
1.23 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

43 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

40 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

9.7 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

29% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

55.2% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

15.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

41,280 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

34,090 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - imports

104,700 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

67.2 million bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

119,300 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

160,700 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

5,345 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

46,360 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas - production

5.241 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

5.387 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

36.9 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

37 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1.85 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 42 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 5.6 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 126 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: excellent domestic and international systems
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership exceeds 160 per 100 persons
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) (2015)

Broadcast media

state-owned Television New Zealand operates multiple TV networks and state-owned Radio New Zealand operates 3 radio networks and an external shortwave radio service to the South Pacific region; a small number of national commercial TV and radio stations a (2008)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 3.916 million
percent of population: 88.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 6
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 123
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 15,304,409
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 999,384,961 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

ZK (2016)


123 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 39
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 84
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 33
under 914 m: 48 (2013)


condensate 331 km; gas 1,936 km; liquid petroleum gas 172 km; oil 288 km; refined products 198 km (2013)


total: 4,128 km
narrow gauge: 4,128 km 1.067-m gauge (503 km electrified) (2014)


total: 94,902 km
paved: 62,759 km (includes 199 km of expressways)
unpaved: 32,143 km (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 15
by type: bulk carrier 3, cargo 3, chemical tanker 1, container 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 2
foreign-owned: 7 (Germany 2, Hong Kong 1, South Africa 1, Switzerland 2, UK 1)
registered in other countries: 5 (Antigua and Barbuda 2, Cook Islands 2, Samoa 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Auckland, Lyttelton, Manukau Harbor, Marsden Point, Tauranga, Wellington


Military branches

New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF): New Zealand Army, Royal New Zealand Navy, Royal New Zealand Air Force (Te Hokowhitu o Kahurangi, RNZAF) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

17 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed until the age of 18; no conscription; 3 years of secondary education required; must be a citizen of NZ, the UK, Australia, Canada, or the US, and resident of NZ for the previous 5 years (2013)

Military expenditures

1.13% of GDP (2012)
1.12% of GDP (2011)
1.13% of GDP (2010)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

asserts a territorial claim in Antarctica (Ross Dependency)

Illicit drugs

significant consumer of amphetamines