Maori Aotearoa, or New Zealand, is a group of island placed in the South Pacific Ocean. Its nearest neighbour is Australia, lying more then 1000 miles northwest. New Zealand is rich in many nature wonders and breath-taking landscapes, such as spectacular caves, deep lakes, valleys, fjords, long beaches, volcanoes... Also, being separated from the rest of the world for millenia, made New Zealand perfect place for developing special animal and vegetation life.
Though having small area, its geological history is very complex. Origin rocks of so called Aotearoa, exist for about 540 million years already. Being part of the Ring of Fire, New Zealand is marked by violent seismic activity, so frequent earthquaqes and volcanic activity are not seldom. The highest mountain is Mount Cook, or Aoraki, at about 3 700 meters. Both nothern and southern islands are cut by many rivers, which are swift and rarely navigable and usually drain into one of the numerous lakes. The longest river is Waikato, and largest natural lake is Lake Taupo, an ancient volcanic crater located in the centre of the North Island. Many lakes are being used as reservoirs for hydroelectric projects. New Zealand's soils usually lack in many nutrients. Over three fourths of the country are covered with clays, though there are pockets of fertile alluvial soils, used for mostly orchards.
Forests cover about two-thirds of the land area. Due to islands' years-long isolation, species unknown to the rest of the world have evoluted. When the Maori arrived in the 13th century, there were few animals, such as geckos, tuatara, some primitive frogs and bats. These are all extant, though habitating only isolated and protected parts of the islands. Later, when the Europeans came, besides their domestic animals, they brought species like red deers, opossums, goats, rabbits... Due to predatory animals absence, New Zealand is paradise for birds such as moa, the kiwi, wekas, takahes, fantails, skuas, royal albatrosses... Also, since New Zealand is located at the warm and cool water meeting, a great variety of fish is found around. There are specias like snapper, shark, kashawai, tuna, marlin etc.
When the Europeans came, they brought many diseases which Maori haven't been resistant to. Many people died, and by 1896 only about 40 000 Maori remained. By time though, they acquired resistance to diseases such as influenza and measles, so number of them increased. Maybe the biggest health problems causer today is UV exposure. UV levels in New Zealand are nearly 40 percent higher than in North America, for example, because of New Zealand's low air pollution, closeness to sun and ozone holes. UV radiation could cause skin cancer and many different radiation diseases, so the sun protection is very important. When visiting New Zealand, tourists must have sunglasses and sun protective clothing and also stay indoors during the middle of the day. Sun protection is necessary for those who are not adapted to New Zealand climate and sun exposure.
Most of today New Zealand habitants are European origined, though there are some Maori and people from Asia. Nowadays, Asians are the fastest-growing demographic group. English is the dominant speaking language, though also Maori and New Zealand Sign Language are official. Most of the people live in the North Island. The main urban cities are Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin. Population growth is caused by intense immigration. In the past, immigrants were mostly from Great Britain, though now are Asians. Both emigration and immigration have a huge effect on New Zealand economy and conditions overall.
Though isolated for many centuries before, New Zealand has been engaged in international affairs since the beginning of the 20th century. It was an active member of many international institutions, such as United Nations and also participated in several wars, including World Wars I and II. Tourism has played, and it still does, the most important role in New Zealand economy.