The Geography of New ZealandBy Clayton BrownKirkpatrickPeriod 7February 25, 1996The well-known country of New Zealand is a small, resourceful nationlocated 1,000 miles off Australia’s south east coast. New Zealand has animpressive economy that continues to grow, a physical landscape that attractspeople from around the globe, and although small, New Zealand is a respectednation for its advanced civilization and stable government.
The geography ofthis prestigious nation can be described through five principal categories, thephysical geography, the cultural geography, the citizens’ standard of living,the government, and the nation’s economy. New Zealand is located in the southern hemisphere, with an absolutelocation of 37 degrees south longitude to 48 degrees south longitude and 167degrees east latitude to 177 degrees east latitude. It is composed of two majorislands named the North and South Islands, and the total land area of the nation,approximately divided equally between the two islands, is 103,470 square miles. Surprisingly, only 2 percent of the land area is arable. New Zealand has anabundance of natural resources, explaining why the country is so wealthycompared to other nations. These resources include fertile grazing land, oiland gas, iron, coal, timber, and excellent fishing waters.
New Zealand’s climate is basically moderate year round because of thenearby ocean that regulates the climate. New Zealand enjoys a marine west coastclimate, that on average produces sixty to eighty degree temperatures in Januaryand forty to sixty degree temperatures in July. Because it is surrounded by theocean, New Zealand receives immense quantities of precipitation on both islands. The average annual precipitation on the North Island is thirty to forty inchesand on the South Island it is forty to fifty inches. This climate producesmixed forests, mid-latitude deciduous forests, and temperate grasslandvegetation.
The terrain is dominated by meadows, pastures, wood lands, and asmall chain of mountains called the Southern Alps. The land is blanketed withsmall lakes and rivers that drain the highlands and empty into the ocean. Theextraordinary diversity of the physical geography found in the United Statesseems to have been duplicated in this relatively small country, where the skislopes and the beaches may be only an hour apart. The cultural geography of New Zealand is not as diverse as its physicalgeography.
Currently 3,547,983 people live in New Zealand, but 83. 7 percent ofthe population live in urbanized areas. The chief cities, each containing morethan one hundred thousand people, are Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Manukau,and Wellington. The average population per square mile is only 34, but it isgrowing due to a 0. 8 percent natural growth rate.
Keeping in mind that only 2percent of the land is arable, the crop land per capita is a meager 0. 125 acresper person. Large portions of New Zealand are devoted to sheep stations, forthere are more sheep in New Zealand than people. The official language of New Zealand is English, although a smallpercentage of the people speak Maori, the native language. Somewhatcorresponding to the language groups, the religious make up is 52 percentChristian, 15 percent Roman Catholic, and 33 percent unspecified or none. Thecountry takes pride in a 99.
9 percent literacy rate by having an excellenteducation system. The entire nation resides in a single time zone that wouldreport 6:00 A. M. if the time in Amarillo, Texas was noon. From the country’scultural geography, it could be predicted that the nation would enjoy a goodstandard of living. In 1994 the gross national product of New Zealand was acolossal 56.
4 billion United State’s dollars, generating a per capita income of$16,640. For every 3. 2 people there is a television, and for every 2. 2 peoplethere is a telephone, meaning there are over 2,600,000 televisions andtelephones in New Zealand.
Fortunately, 99. 8 percent of the people are able toenjoy safe drinking water, including the natives who live in rural areas. New Zealand has a superb health care industry that serves as a paragonto the rest of the world. There are presently 11,335 physicians and 31,122hospital beds in New Zealand, for an ample ratio of one physician per 313 peopleand one hospital bed per 114 people. The population of New Zealand is providedwith plenty of food and a healthy diet, the average person receivesapproximately 3,250 calories per day. New Zealand has one of the highest lifeexpectancies in the entire world, that being 74 for men, 80 for women, and 77for any person.
Unfortunately, AIDS is a growing problem in New Zealand thatcontinues to spread at a phenomenal rate. There have been 3,548 AIDS casesreported, affecting one out of every 1,000 people with the syndrome, not tomention the thousands more infected with the HIV virus. New Zealand’s government has contributed to its impressive standard ofliving. New Zealand achieved independence from the United Kingdom on September26, 1907.
The government was placed in Wellington, on the North Island, andstill remains there today as the capital. The government is a constitutionalmonarchy that was designed to resemble the United Kingdom government. Itincludes an executive branch, legislative branch, judicial branch, and a Kingand Queen employed only as figureheads. The military is divided into threebranches, the New Zealand army, the Royal New Zealand Navy, and the Royal NewZealand Air Force. Presently there are 742,871 men fit for military service,but only 10,500 active troops in service.
New Zealand has a flourishing economy that is based on three maineconomic activities, livestock raising, farming, and foreign trade. The economyis almost completely dependent on the export of goods, which include wool, lamb,mutton, beef, fish, and forestry products. Twenty percent of the exports go toAustralia, 15 percent to Japan, 12 percent to the U. S. , 6 percent to the U.
K. ,and 47 percent to other countries. New Zealand’s monetary unit is the NewZealand dollar, and the exchange rate is 1. 46 N. Z. dollars equals 1 U.
S. dollar. With a 6. 2 percent economic growth rate, New Zealand could soon have one of thetop five economies in the world. New Zealand is among the world’s finest countries, because of itsexquisite landscape and first-rate economy. With an excellent standard ofliving, perfect climate, and majestic terrain, New Zealand for many people is anideal place to live.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people tour NewZealand just to catch a glimpse of what many proclaim to be paradise, and afterresearching this report, I intend to someday be one of those tourists. Works CitedBaerwald, Thomas, and Celeste Fraser. World Geography: A World Perspective. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1995. “New Zealand. ” World Fact Book (1995).
Site:http://www. odci. gov/cia/publications/ 95fact/nz. html. Compton’s Learning Company.
Compton’s Living Encyclopedia. New York: Soft Key,1997. Famighetti, Robert. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1997.
United States:World Almanac Books, 1997. Novosad, Charles. The Nystrom Desk Atlas. Chicago: Division of Hereff Jones,Inc, 1994.