The geography of New Zealand encompasses two main islands the North and South Islands and a number of smaller islands. The dramatic and varied landscape of New Zealand has made it a well visited tourist destination and a popular location for the production of films such as “Lord of the Rings “trilogy.
New Zealand is in Oceania, in the South Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 268 680 square kilometers, making it slightly smaller than Italy and Japan and a little larger than the United Kingdom. These islands are the main areas of land that emerged from the largely submerged continent of Zealandia. The country has 15 134 Km of coastline and extensive marine resources.
The climate is mostly cool temperate to warm temperate. January and February are the warmest months, July the coldest. New Zealand does not have a large temperature range but the weather can change rapidly and unexpectedly. Subtropical conditions are experienced in Northland.
Most areas of the country have between 600 and 1600 mm of rainfall, with the highest rainfall along the west coast of the South Island and the least on the east cost of the South Island, predominantly on the Canterbury Plains. Christchurch is the driest city, receiving about 640 mm of rain per year, while Auckland is the wettest, receiving almost twice that amount.
New Zealand’s UV index can be very high in some places and extreme in the hottest times of the year in the north of North Island. This is partly due to the country’s relatively little air pollution compared to many other countries.
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The economy of New Zealand is a market economy which is greatly dependent on international trade, mainly with Australia, the European Union, the United States, China and Japan. It has only small manufacturing and high-tech sectors, being strongly focused on tourism and primary industries like agriculture (though both sectors are highly profitable).
Economic free-market reforms of the last decades have removed many barriers to foreign investment, and the World Bank in 2005 praised New Zealand as being the most business-friendly country in the world.
Traditionally New Zealand’s economy was built upon a narrow range of primary industries, such as dairy, meat and timber products.
Since 1984, the government of New Zealand has undertaken major economic restructuring, moving an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access toward a more industrialised, free market economy that can compete globally. This growth has boosted real incomes, broadened and deepened the technological capabilities of the industrial sector, and contained inflationary pressures. Inflation remains among the lowest in the industrial world.
New Zealand’s economy has traditionally been based on a foundation of exports from its very efficient agricultural system. Leading agricultural exports now include meat, dairy products, forest products, fruit and vegetables, fish and wool. New Zealand was a direct beneficiary on many of the reforms achieved under the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations, with agriculture in general and the dairy sector in particular enjoying many new trade opportunities in the long term.
The country has substantial hydroelectric power and sizable reserves of natural gas, much of which is exploited due primarily to major Keynesian import substitution-oriented industrial projects. Leading manufacturing sectors are food processing, metal fabrication, wood and paper products.
The healthcare system in New Zealand has undergone significant changes throughout the past several decades. From an essentially fully public system in the early 20th century, reforms have introduced market and health insurance elements primarily in the last three decades, creating a mixed public-private system for delivering healthcare.
The Accident Compensation Corporation covers the costs of treatment for cases deemed as ‘accidents’, for all people legally in New Zealand (including tourists), with the costs recovered via levies on employers, employees and some other sources such as car registration.
The high-quality system of public hospitals treats citizens, permanent residents and people on a minimum two year work and student visa free of charge and is managed by District Health Boards. However, costly or difficulty operations can require long waiting list delays unless the treatment is medically urgent. Because of this, a secondary market of health insurance schemes exists which fund operations and treatments of this type for their members privately.
Education in New Zealand follows the four-tier model which includes primary schools, middle and secondary schools with tertiary education at universities and polytechnics.
New Zealand’s education system is continually ranked amongst the best in the world.
Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 5 and 16. Families wishing to home school their children can apply for an exemption. To get an exemption from enrollment at a registered school, they must satisfy the Secretary of Education that their child will be taught “as regularly and as well as in a registered school”.
Tertiary education fees for citizens and permanent residents are subsidized by the Government, and the student portion of the fee can be loaned from the Government under the Government’s Student Loan Scheme. Students enrolled in courses can access not only Student Loans but also Student Allowances to assist with fees and living costs. New Zealand has 8 Universities, 5 Colleges of Education and a wealth of Polytechnics.