New Zealand: Country and Foreign Investment
History, Language and Culture
Due to its geographical isolation, it is one of the most recently settled major countries. James Cook did not reach New Zealand until 1769, and the British government did not claim sovereignty until 1840.
The number of European settlers increased thereafter, causing conflict with the indigenous population, the Maori. The conflict caused by European settlement and their acquisition of land from the Maori remains controversial.
In 1907, the United Kingdom granted New Zealand “dominion” status within the British Empire. Exactly when full independence was achieved from the United Kingdom is argued among historians; however, New Zealand became an independent British Commonwealth realm following the recognition of Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
New Zealand’s population is around 4.3m, with over 85% now living in urban areas, of which the main areas are on North Island – Auckland, the main industrial complex; Hamilton; and Wellington. Christchurch, the second largest industrial area, and Dunedin are on South Island.
By the late 1850s settlers outnumbered Maori, and 70% of New Zealand's population is now of European descent. Although the overwhelming majority of immigrants were of British extraction, other Europeans came as well. The Maori are still the largest minority at almost 8%, but Asians and non-Maori Pacific islanders are also significant minority groups, especially in urban areas.
The most commonly spoken language is English, but Maori also remains an official language.
Around 53% of New Zealanders profess to be Christian, but there is no state religion.