New Zealand is an island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean that has a population of around 3.5 million people. With two major landmasses—the North Island (Te Ika-a-Mui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu)—and more than 700 smaller islands, it has a total land area of 268,021 square kilometres and a population of around 500,000 people (103,500 sq mi). As a result of the Tasman Sea divide, New Zealand lies about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) east of Australia, and approximately 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of the islands of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. The country's diverse terrain and steep mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, are mostly due to tectonic uplift and volcanic eruptions, which have shaped the landscape. The capital city of New Zealand is Wellington, while the city with the most population is Auckland.
Considering that it is a developed country, New Zealand scores well in worldwide comparisons of national performance in areas such as quality of life, education, civil liberties protection, government transparency, and economic freedom, among others. During the 1980s, New Zealand experienced significant economic reforms that changed the country from a protectionist to a liberalised free-trade economy, among other things. The service industry accounts for the lion's share of the national economy, followed by the industrial sector and agriculture; overseas tourism is a major source of foreign currency. A democratically elected unicameral Parliament exercises legislative authority at the national level; executive political power is handled by the Cabinet, which is presently headed by the prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, and is responsible to the people of New Zealand. A governor-general, who is presently Dame Patsy Reddy, represents the country's queen, Queen Elizabeth II, who is the country's reigning monarch. Additional to this, New Zealand is divided into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for the purpose of local government administration. In contrast to Tokelau (a dependent territory), including Cook Islands and Niue (self-governing nations in free association with New Zealand), and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand's territorial claim in Antarctica), the Realm of New Zealand encompasses a number of other countries and territories.
Among the organisations that New Zealand belongs to are the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, ASEAN Plus Six, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Islands Forum, and the Pacific Community.