Australia is an independent country and a relatively low-elevation island continent that is distinguished by its large semiarid interior region called the outback. Two core areas with moderate Type C climates along the eastern and western coasts hold most of the modest population of about twenty-two million.
Great Britain colonized Australia and first used it as a prison colony. European traditions and heritage prevail, with English as the main language and Christianity as the main religion. The Aborigines had been there for tens of thousands of years before the Europeans arrived but only about four hundred fifty thousand remain.
The traditional method of gaining wealth in Australia has been through agricultural production. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the export of minerals and raw materials became a major method of gaining wealth. In the past decade, tourism has risen to Australia’s number one means of gaining wealth. Physical features such as the Great Barrier Reef, the outback, and the many unique animals make Australia a destination for world travelers.
New Zealand is about 1,500 miles to the east of Australia across the Tasman Sea. The two main islands of New Zealand have high relief, with the Southern Alps located on the South Island. Moderate climate conditions and adequate rainfall make New Zealand an appealing place for agriculture and tourism. The remote locations create an element of isolation that is a cost consideration for travel and trade.
The Maori people from Polynesia inhabited New Zealand before the British colonized it. The Maori had conflicts with the British and, later, the government over the loss of lands and legal arrangements. The Maori make up less than 10 percent of the 4.3 million people in New Zealand. The Maori situation has common ground with the situation with the Aborigines in Australia, who also have been working to regain land rights and legal settlements.
New Zealand’s economic situation has evolved to accommodate international market prices and demands as well as the internal business and political climate of the country. The main economic activity has been agricultural exports, but the country has been diversifying into industrial processes and tourism. Natural gas development has also been expanding.