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July 2013

New Zealand

New Zealand

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck 46km ESE of Blenheim, New Zealand on July 21, 2013. New Zealand is comparatively the size of Colorado. It is comprised of the North and South islands as well as several groups of smaller islands: Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Chatham Islands, and Kermadec Islands.

New Zealand's climates is temperate with sharp regional contrasts; its terrain is predominately mountainous with some large coastal plains. Natural resources include: natural gas, iron ore, sand, coal, timber, hydropower, gold, and limestone. Earthquakes are common, though usually not severe; volcanic activity is also a natural hazard facing the country.

The Polynesian Maori reached New Zealand in about A.D. 800. In 1840, their chieftains entered into a compact with Britain, the Treaty of Waitangi, in which they ceded sovereignty to Queen Victoria while retaining territorial rights. That same year, the British began the first organized colonial settlement. A series of land wars between 1843 and 1872 ended with the defeat of the native peoples. The British colony of New Zealand became an independent dominion in 1907 and supported the UK militarily in both world wars. New Zealand's full participation in a number of defense alliances lapsed by the 1980s. In recent years, the government has sought to address longstanding Maori grievances.

English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language are all official languages of New Zealand, while other spoken languages include: Samoan, French, Hindi, and Yue. Over the past 20 years the government has transformed New Zealand from an agrarian economy dependent on concessionary British market access to a more industrialized, free market economy that can compete globally.

For more information about earthquakes, worldwide, contact the USGS Natural Hazards Program.

CIA World Factbook; USGS Earthquakes Hazard Program, 7/2013; 7/2013

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