1.New Zealand is located in the South Western Pacific Ocean and is geographically isolated, being 2000 km away from Australia. The current population is roughly 4.5 million. The largest city is Auckland but the executive has been situated in Wellington since 1863, making the latter the official capital.
??2. The nation was a member of the British empire for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, fighting alongside Britain in the World Wars but became more politically independent after 1947, and economically independent after Britain entered the EC in 1973 and forced New Zealand to work alone. Undisputed independence came from the Constitution Act of 1986, ending the last remaining associations of New Zealand with the British Parliament.
3. The system of government is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy, based entirely on the British system. Queen Elizabeth II is New Zealand???s monarch, but the nation has a Governor General (currently Sir Anand Satyanand) that sits for 5 years, acting as a surrogate to fulfil the constitutional duties in her name. The nation then has a Prime Minister that is the leader of the largest party in the legislature.
4. Official provinces were abolished in 1876 to centralise government, but regions of the nation still enjoy competition through sports. This system was altered in 1989, when New Zealand brought in 12 regional councils and 73 territorial authorities to administer work on a local level ??? yet no formal boundaries were drawn.
5. The legislature is unicameral, and elected under the Mixed Member Proportional System. Around 55% of the seats are elected through First Past The Post, and the rest distributed proportionally according the percentage gained by each party nationally. As of 2008 the largest party is the National Party, led by Prime Minister John Key, and has gone into a right wing coalition with the Maori Party, the ACT party and the United Future Party.
6. New Zealand is relatively secure economically, with its financial status comparable to Southern European nations. Auckland was ranked 4th in 2009 by the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. The nation still uses the New Zealand Dollar, introduced in 1967.
7. The nation has either hosted or created huge cultural successes in recent years, with both The Lord of the Rings and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe filmed there ??? and The Flight of the Conchords, the comedy/ music show being born there. New Zealand is also commonly associated with Rugby (the national team, the Kiwis, won the 2008 world cup), extreme sports and mountaineering.
??In 1893 the country became the first nation in the world to grant all women the right to vote, and in 2003 New Zealand decriminalised the sex trade.
(Bungee Jumping, John Key, a Kiwi, Sir Anand Satyanand, Wellington, Flight of the Conchords, Hobbiton)