Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the country of New Zealand is made up of a number of islands of varying sizes. Known as the North and South Islands, the two largest islands in New Zealand are home to the vast majority of the country's population and economic activity. Located between 8 degrees south and 60 degrees south, the smaller islands are widely dispersed over a large area of ocean from 8 degrees south to 60 degrees south.
New Zealand has a significant interest in Antarctica as well, and it is one of the signatories to a treaty that stipulates that Antarctica may only be exploited for peaceful purposes. Mountainous terrain covers a significant portion of New Zealand's landmass, particularly in the North Island. In addition, the geysers and hot springs that have made New Zealand famous can be found on the North Island.
Although the rivers are teeming with fish, they are too short and swift to be used for navigation. The Canterbury plains of New Zealand's South Island provide grazing for the vast quantities of sheep that are exported overseas and account for a significant portion of the country's total exports. Farmers in New Zealand primarily produce sheep and wool, which are the most valuable commodities in the country. New Zealand has over 60 million sheep, which is a large number for a small country.
When sheep and cattle are taken into consideration, there are approximately 24 times as many animals as there are people in the country. During the year 1882, the ship Dunedin sailed from Wellington, carrying with it the first cargo of refrigerated meat, ensuring the continued success of New Zealand's agricultural industry. Mineral production in New Zealand is small, and gold mining, which was a significant source of wealth until recently, has seen a significant decline in recent years. Coal is the primary source of mineral wealth in the world. Copper, silver, iron ore, manganese ore, tungsten, and asbestos are some of the other minerals that are mined in small quantities, including alumina.
Because of New Zealand's relatively small population, the country's resources are rarely taxed, space and employment opportunities are plentiful, and the country's standard of living is on par with that of Canada and Australia, among others. A major advantage of the climate is that it is mild, moist, and relatively stable throughout the year, which is great for farming because it allows multiple crops to be grown in a single growing season. Except for the heights of the New Zealand Alps, where the snow is sufficiently heavy to serve as a training ground for Himalayan expeditions, very little snow falls on the lower ground, even on the South Island's lower slopes and mountains.
New Zealand, like Australia, has an indigenous population, which is known as the Maoris. Originally from Rarotonga, this group of Polynesian people now resides primarily on the North Island, having emigrated there sometime around the middle of the fourteenth century. Despite the fact that there was a lot of fighting when Britain took over the islands in the nineteenth century, the Maoris have managed to integrate quite well. Despite the fact that they live in a Western way of life, they have retained many of their ancient traditions, particularly war chants and dances, as anyone who has attended a New Zealand rugby football match will attest to.