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About New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some 1,500 kilometers (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly 1,000 kilometers (600 mi) south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Due to its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans.
During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, many of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and introduced mammals. With a mild maritime climate, the land was mostly covered in forest. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks owe much to the uplift of land and volcanic eruptions caused by the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates clashing underfoot.
The majority of New Zealand's population is of European descent; the indigenous Māori are the largest minority, followed by Asians and non-Māori Polynesians. English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages, with English predominant. Much of New Zealand's culture is derived from Māori and early British settlers. Early European art was dominated by landscapes and to a lesser extent portraits of Māori. A recent resurgence of Māori culture has seen their traditional arts of carving, weaving and tattooing become more mainstream. Many artists now combine Māori and Western techniques to create unique art forms. The country's culture has also been broadened by globalisation and increased immigration from the Pacific Islands and Asia. New Zealand's diverse landscape provides many opportunities for outdoor pursuits and has provided the backdrop for a number of big budget movies.
New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes; these have less autonomy than the country's long defunct provinces did. Nationally, executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. Queen Elizabeth II is the country's head of state and is represented by a Governor-General. The Queen's Realm of New Zealand also includes Tokelau (a dependent territory); the Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing but in free association); and the Ross Dependency, New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica. New Zealand is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
New Zealand’s colleges and universities are well respected internationally and offer a broad range of educational opportunities for international students here. New Zealand has quality institutions including a nationwide network of English language schools as well as internationally regarded and accredited tertiary education providers. International students can study for a certificate, diploma through to masters and doctoral degrees.
Study abroad students are able to combine study and travel, exploring the great outdoors of New Zealand. There are literally hundreds of different activities that can be undertaken throughout the seasons of the year. Students can also combine study and working if you have a Working Holiday Visa.
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