One of the last places on Earth to be settled by humans, the country of New Zealand is made up of 2 islands (North and South) located about 900 miles east of Australia in the Pacific Ocean. During its long isolation, New Zealand was able to become rich with a great diversity of plants and animals. The land was covered in forests because of its mild climate. The country’s varied topography exists because of the tectonic plates found in the Pacific Ocean and the volcanic eruptions that formed the dramatic mountains.
In 1250–1300 AD Polynesians settled in New Zealand and developed a Maori culture. Europeans first came to New Zealand in 1642 and now make up the majority of the population. The indigenous Maori are the largest minority. Floating in the South Pacific, the traditions of the Kiwi are marked by influences from the first inhabitants, the Maori and the Europeans that came later.
New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The Queen of England is also the Queen of New Zealand; she is represented by the Governor- General whom she appoints.
New Zealand lies on the tectonic plate in the Pacific that passes through Japan and the west coast of the United States. The fracture passes through both islands of New Zealand and caused both to have high mountains but in the South Island the plates crashing into each other caused the Southern Alps, while in the North the sliding of one plate under the other caused volcanic activity. Most of the thermal activity caused by volcanoes is located around Rotorua and Taupo in the center of the North Island. The biggest volcano in New Zealand and the world most destructive, in the past eruptions, is Lake Taupo. It is classified as a super-volcano and erupts about every 2000 years.