|Image: Glacier on South Island.|
New Zealand is often called Aotearoa, the original Maori name of the island. Legend tells, that the Polynesian settlers saw the island covered by a long cloud when they arrived, so they called it Aotearoa which means Land of the Long Cloud.
|Image: the Southern Alps with a typical glacier water filled lake.|
The history of this big island did not include man until about thousand years ago. The small piece of the supercontinent Pangaea was far away from all other continents for millions of years and the local fauna and flora developed absolutely independend. This changed when Polynesian settlers arrived on the island. They brought with them new plants and new animals. They started to hunt and extinct some animals, like the ostrich-like Moa, in only a few centuries. And their domestic animal helped to destroy the local live.
|Image: one base of modern economy: 70 million sheep.|
But this was nothing compared to the impact of modern white invasion. Rats, cats and dogs, fur bearing animals and of course modern technics and industry changed the whole country. At first there were some battles between the old and the new settlers. But they were settled in a historic treaty, and so New Zealand is probably the country where the white colonization caused the least impact. Very important was also the late colonization, most of it happened at the end of the 19th century. And the number of settlers was relatively small. New Zealand soon became one of the richest countries in the world, and is still a country with an high standard of living.
On the other hand, New Zealand is a country of rainforrests, mountains, glaciers at sea level, fast-flowing rivers, deep, clear lakes with strange colour, hissing geysers and boiling mud. This extraordinary nature makes it a popular tourist destination and a modern emigration target.
New Zealand is rather small, only 270,534km2, and has a population of only 3.8 Million people. It has two big islands and numerous very small islands. The capital is Wellington, located on the southern tip of North Island. The biggest city is Auckland, in the northern part of North Island. It is also the biggest Polynesian city on the world, as it has many Maori and Polynesian inhabitants. The inhabitants speak English and there is of course the Maori language.
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