New Zealand, Mori Aotearoa, is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, southwest of Polynesia. New Zealand is a remote land located more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of its nearest neighbor, Australia. The country comprises two main islands, the North and South Islands, and several smaller islands, some hundreds of miles away from the main group. Wellington, the capital city, and Auckland, the largest urban region, are located on the North Island. New Zealand governs the Tokelau island group in the South Pacific and claims a portion of the Antarctic continent. Niue and the Cook Islands are self-governing territories with a free association agreement with New Zealand.
New Zealand is a country rich in contrasts and diversity. Active volcanoes, beautiful caverns, deep glacial lakes, verdant valleys, brilliant fjords, long sandy beaches, and the spectacular snowcapped peaks of the South Island's Southern Alps/K Tiritiri o te Moana all add to New Zealand's visual splendor. New Zealand also features a diverse range of vegetation and animal life, much of which evolved due to the country's lengthy isolation. It is, for example, the only home of the long-beaked, flightless kiwi, New Zealand's worldwide nickname.
When Great Britain acquired New Zealand in 1840, it was the largest country in Polynesia. Following that, it was a crown colony, a self-governing colony (1856), and a dominion. It controlled practically all of its internal and foreign policy by the 1920s, and it did not achieve full independence until 1947, when it ratified the Statute of Westminster. It belongs to the Commonwealth.
In international assessments of national performance, New Zealand rates highly in areas such as quality of life, education, civil liberties protection, government transparency, and economic freedom. The country was the first to implement a minimum wage and to grant women the right to vote. During the 1980s, New Zealand saw significant economic changes that turned it from a protectionist to a liberalized free-trade economy. The national economy is dominated by the service industry, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture; foreign tourism is also a key source of revenue. Nationally, legislative power is held by an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is held by the Cabinet, which the prime minister leads, Jacinda Ardern. The kingdom's ruler is King Charles III, who is represented by the governor-general.