Words Describing New Zealand
If you exclude the tiny countries of Norfolk Island (population 2 thousand in 2011) and New Caledonia (population 252 thousand 2011), then the nearest country to New Zealand is Fiji, 2,600km away. Australia is more than 4000km from New Zealand.
To put that into context, the distance from NZ to it's nearest neighbour with more than half a million people is more than London to Moscow. And the distance between NZ and Australia is more than New York to Los Angeles.
- Sparsely populated
New Zealand is roughly the same size as the UK but has one fourteenth the population (4.4m versus 62.6m). The US state of Oregon is about the same size and population as New Zealand.
- Warm temperate climate
The climate varies from cool temperate in the far south to subtropical in the far north.
New Zealand is the 5th most democratic country in the world, according to the Economist Magazine Intelligence Unit (source). The top 5 democracies are Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand.
New Zealand is known as the “Youngest Country on Earth” because it has a shorter human history than any other. Maori believe the first explorer of New Zealand was Kupe, who came from Hawaiki on an ocean-going canoe around a thousand years ago. Hawaiki doesn't exist anymore but there are strong similarities between Maori culture and others others from Polynesia such as Hawaii, Tahiti and the Cook Islands.
New Zealand is unique because it evolved in isolation for millions of years (it is thought to have become it's own continent about 80 million years ago).
80% of trees, ferns and flowering plants are endemic (only found in New Zealand) and before humans arrived, 71% of the birds species were endemic too. Sadly, humans decimated bird numbers through hunting and the introduction of stoats, ferrets, weasels, rats, mice, possums, cats, dogs and others mammals. But it's still incredibly unique — thousands of plants and animals are only found in New Zealand.
- Mostly influenced by European, US, South Pacific and Asian culture
There's a joke that when your plane lands in New Zealand, the pilot tells everyone to wind back their watches 20 years.
- British colonial
James Cook claimed the North and South islands of New Zealand for the British crown in 1769 and 1770. Around 1900, the larger British settler colonies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) became self-governing, independent colonies, but they all remain heavily British-influenced and are all voluntarily in the Commonwealth, formerly the "British Commonwealth".
Part of the New Zealand flag is the British Union Jack, the Queen of England appears on New Zealand money, and to become a New Zealand citizen, you must pledge loyalty to the Queen of New Zealand, Elizabeth II.