Consisting of two major islands in the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand's capital is Wellington.
Demography: Population (1994), 3.389 million, 0.57% annual growth rate (1994 estimate); 76% urban; English (official) Maori languages; Protestant (52%) Roman Catholic (15%) religions.
Geography: 268,680 square km total area; 15,134 km coastline, with the Tasman Sea to the west-northwest; temperate climate with sharp regional contrasts.
Government: Parliamentary democracy. Chief of state is Queen Elizabeth II and head of government is Prime Minister James Bolger.
Official agricultural agencies: Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF).
Economy: Agriculture accounts for 9% of gross domestic product and employs about 10% of the workforce. Agricultural products account for some 66% of New Zealand's total merchandise exports.
For the past 10 years, New Zealand has been moving away from social welfare to a free market. Adjustments were required for the agricultural sector, but market liberalizations led to higher agricultural exports, improving profitability. The wider economy began to pull out of a recession in 1992, and gross domestic product expanded by 3% in 1992-93, followed by a 4% increase the next year. Inflation in 1994 was about 1.3%, although unemployment, at 9.5%, remained relatively high.
G.D.P. per capita: U.S.$15,700 (1993 estimate).
Currency: the New Zealand dollar; September 1995 exchange rate: 1.5357 New Zealand dollars per U.S. dollar.
Major crops: Livestock and dairy products, including wool and meat; kiwifruit, apples, barley and wheat; timber. New Zealand also has an active fishing industry that accounts for more than 10% of total annual export revenues.
Wheat and other grains: Most grain is produced on the South Island. Annual wheat production in the five years ending in 1993-94 has averaged 184 million tonnes, with imports in the same period averaging 196 million. Average consumption was 379 million tonnes, with an average of 33 million used as feed.
New Zealand is self-sufficient in barley. The five-year annual average production was 375 million tonnes, with consumption at 352 million. More than 71% of total use is for feed.
Livestock: The livestock sector generally is pasture-fed, based on a temperate climate allowing grass growth most of the year. Milk, wool, beef and sheepmeat account for about 60% of the country's total agricultural output.
Transportation: 4,716 km total, all 1.067-meter gauge; 92,648 km of highways, with 49,547 paved; major ports include Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.