New Zealand is a small country in the southern hemisphere. People of New Zealand, known as kiwis, are proud of the things that make their country unique.
New Zealand is a little country down in the southern hemisphere, a few hours flight from the east coast of Australia. Many people confuse it as belonging to Australia, but it's a totally separate country. The Tasman Sea lies to the west and the Pacific Ocean lies to the East of the country. New Zealand sees the new day before the rest of the world and was therefore the first to greet the new millenium back in 2000. Being so far from the rest of the world, New Zealand is a country easily forgotten. However, there are many interesting things that should be known about the country and the people. Here are a few of them.
The latest population of New Zealand, at the beginning of March 2010 is 4,357,204 people. This probably seems rather small for a whole country as many cities of the world are this size or larger. It is estimated that there is one birth every 8 minutes and 10 seconds, one death every 19 minutes and 46 seconds and a net migration gain of one New Zealand resident every 23 minutes and 34 seconds. Although Wellington is the capital city, the greater city has a population of only 389,700 compared with Auckland to the north, with a greater city population of 444,100.
One of the population statistics that many New Zealanders find amusing, is that there is a ratio of nine sheep to every person in the country. In 2008 there were estimated to be 39 million sheep in New Zealand.
Wellington, the capital city, sits at the south of the North Island, on Cook Strait. It is surrounded by hills and harbour, and is actually further south than the northern most tip of the South Island. The Beehive is the centre of parliament, named because of its shape. Wellington also lays claim to being the most southern capital city in the world, being located at 41.2 degrees South.
New Zealanders have a strong sense of independence, especially when it comes to getting from one place to another. Car ownership in New Zealand is the highest in the world per head of population. There are over 2.5 million cars registered for a population of less than 4.5 million, including children. One sixth of the total number of cars are more than sixteen years old, and one fifth of all cars are less than seven years old.
The first vines in New Zealand were planted by the missionary, Samuel Marsden about 1828. The first noticeable wine growing efforts were those of the Dalmatians, now known as Yugoslavs. The Dalmatians initially arrived around 1858 to work on the gum fields in the north, but gradually developed wine making in their new country. New Zealand is now known worldwide for the quality of the wines it produces.
Bats and other Mammals
Apart from two species of bats, there are no native New Zealand mammals. The first mammals, dogs and rats, were brought to New Zealand during the Maori migrations about a thousand years ago. Capt Cook introduced the first wild pigs to New Zealand between 1773 and 1777. The descendants of these now live wild in the bush and are known by their Maori name, kune kune.
Kiwis and Kiwifruit
The kiwi is a small nocturnal, flightless bird, native to New Zealand. Kiwi is also the name by which New Zealanders travelling abroad are known. Kiwifruit, commonly called kiwis in some countries, used to be called Chinese gooseberries, and are a small green, nutritious fruit encased in a brown furry skin.
New Zealand is Unique
Like all countries, the people of New Zealand like to believe their country is unique. It has a clean, green reputation and is obviously not overcrowded when you think about the number of people compared with the number of sheep. It is a country of lakes, rivers, mountains and forests. It is proud of its sporting teams, especially the rugby All Blacks and the netball Silver Ferns.
These are only a few of the things that make New Zealand unique. The pioneering spirit moulded the New Zealand character of a hard working, do-it-yourself nation. Kiwis, the people, not the birds, are far from flightless, travelling widely, but usually preferring home to their clean, green country of origin.
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