4. New Zealand
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4. New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country lying in the southwest Pacific Ocean, southeast of Australia, 1,600 kilometres from north to south. Wellington is approximately the antipodes of Saragossa in Northern Spain. In area it is almost the same size as Italy. It consists of 2 large islands, the North Island and the South Island are separated by narrow Cook Strait Steward Island, south of the South island, and many small islands, both populated and unpopulated, lie around the coast. The distance between islands is called Cook Strait and it is 150 km. New Zealand is bigger in size than Great Britain. New Zealand is mainly mountainous with fertile plains on its east coast. The North Island is famous for its volcanic plateau and a lot of small lakes. There are glaciers and 15 peaks above 3 000 m in the South Island. The highest peak is Mt. Cook (3 700 m) in the Southern Alps. The climate is very pleasant all the year around in New Zealand.
Population of New Zealand is about 3,3 million. The density is low (12 people per 1 sq. km). 85 per cent people are of European origin and about 9 per cent are Maoris. English is the official language. New Zealand is divided into counties. All the principal cities lie on the coast. The largest cities are: capital Wellington and Auckland are in the North Island, Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson are in the South Island.
The first inhabitants of New Zealand were the Maoris of Polynesian origin, who settled there before and during 14th century. The first European to see New Zealand was the Dutch navigator Abel Tasman. More than 100 years later rediscovered the islands captain James Cook of the Royal Navy. On the first of three visits, he mapped the main islands and discovered the passage between the two islands – Cook Strait – named after him.
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