Australia the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area; the neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea and East Timor to the north. The population of 25 million is urbanised and concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, its largest city is Sydney; the country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Australia was inhabited by indigenous Australians for about 60,000 years before the first British settlement in the late 18th century, it is documented. After the European exploration of the continent by Dutch explorers in 1606, who named it New Holland, Australia's eastern half was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales from 26 January 1788, a date which became Australia's national day; the population grew in subsequent decades, by the 1850s most of the continent had been explored and an additional five self-governing crown colonies established.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies federated. Australia has since maintained a stable liberal democratic political system that functions as a federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy, comprising six states and ten territories. Being the oldest and driest inhabited continent, with the least fertile soils, Australia has a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres. A megadiverse country, its size gives it a wide variety of landscapes, with deserts in the centre, tropical rainforests in the north-east and mountain ranges in the south-east. A gold rush began in Australia in the early 1850s, its population density, 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, remains among the lowest in the world. Australia generates its income from various sources including mining-related exports, telecommunications and manufacturing. Indigenous Australian rock art is the oldest and richest in the world, dating as far back as 60,000 years and spread across hundreds of thousands of sites. Australia is a developed country, with the world's 14th-largest economy.
It has a high-income economy, with the world's tenth-highest per capita income. It is a regional power, has the world's 13th-highest military expenditure. Australia has the world's ninth-largest immigrant population, with immigrants accounting for 26% of the population. Having the third-highest human development index and the eighth-highest ranked democracy globally, the country ranks in quality of life, education, economic freedom, civil liberties and political rights, with all its major cities faring well in global comparative livability surveys. Australia is a member of the United Nations, G20, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Plus Six mechanism; the name Australia is derived from the Latin Terra Australis, a name used for a hypothetical continent in the Southern Hemisphere since ancient times. When Europeans first began visiting and mapping Australia in the 17th century, the name Terra Australis was applied to the new territories.
Until the early 19th century, Australia was best known as "New Holland", a name first applied by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and subsequently anglicised. Terra Australis still saw occasional usage, such as in scientific texts; the name Australia was popularised by the explorer Matthew Flinders, who said it was "more agreeable to the ear, an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth". The first time that Australia appears to have been used was in April 1817, when Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged the receipt of Flinders' charts of Australia from Lord Bathurst. In December 1817, Macquarie recommended to the Colonial Office. In 1824, the Admiralty agreed that the continent should be known by that name; the first official published use of the new name came with the publication in 1830 of The Australia Directory by the Hydrographic Office. Colloquial names for Australia include "Oz" and "the Land Down Under". Other epithets include "the Great Southern Land", "the Lucky Country", "the Sunburnt Country", "the Wide Brown Land".
The latter two both derive from Dorothea Mackellar's 1908 poem "My Country". Human habitation of the Australian continent is estimated to have begun around 65,000 to 70,000 years ago, with the migration of people by land bridges and short sea-crossings from what is now Southeast Asia; these first inhabitants were the ancestors of modern Indigenous Australians. Aboriginal Australian culture is one of the oldest continual civilisations on earth. At the time of first European contact, most Indigenous Australians were hunter-gatherers with complex economies and societies. Recent archaeological finds suggest. Indigenous Australians have an oral culture with spiritual values based on reverence for the land and a belief in the Dreamtime; the Torres Strait Islanders, ethnically Melanesian, obtained their livelihood from seasonal horticulture and the resources of their reefs and seas. The northern coasts and waters of Australia were visited s
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States is the world's longest bi-national land border, its capital is Ottawa, its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra, its population is urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, many near the southern border. Canada's climate varies across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons. Various indigenous peoples have inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years prior to European colonization. Beginning in the 16th century and French expeditions explored, settled, along the Atlantic coast.
As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces; this began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament. Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition, with Elizabeth II as its queen and a prime minister who serves as the chair of the federal cabinet and head of government; the country is a realm within the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie and bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, education.
It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture. A developed country, Canada has the sixteenth-highest nominal per capita income globally as well as the twelfth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index, its advanced economy is the tenth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. While a variety of theories have been postulated for the etymological origins of Canada, the name is now accepted as coming from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement".
In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier to the village of Stadacona. Cartier used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village but to the entire area subject to Donnacona. From the 16th to the early 18th century "Canada" referred to the part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River. In 1791, the area became two British colonies called Upper Canada and Lower Canada collectively named the Canadas. Upon Confederation in 1867, Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country at the London Conference, the word Dominion was conferred as the country's title. By the 1950s, the term Dominion of Canada was no longer used by the United Kingdom, which considered Canada a "Realm of the Commonwealth"; the government of Louis St. Laurent ended the practice of using'Dominion' in the Statutes of Canada in 1951. In 1982, the passage of the Canada Act, bringing the Constitution of Canada under Canadian control, referred only to Canada, that year the name of the national holiday was changed from Dominion Day to Canada Day.
The term Dominion was used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces, though after the Second World War the term federal had replaced dominion. Indigenous peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations, Métis, the last being a mixed-blood people who originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations and Inuit people married European settlers; the term "Aboriginal" as a collective noun is a specific term of art used in some legal documents, including the Constitution Act 1982. The first inhabitants of North America are hypothesized to have migrated from Siberia by way of the Bering land bridge and arrived at least 14,000 years ago; the Paleo-Indian archeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the oldest sites of human habitation in Canada. The characteristics of Canadian indigenous societies included permanent settlements, complex societal hierarchies, trading networks; some of these cultures had collapsed by the time European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and have only been discovered through archeological investigations.
The indigenous population at the time of the first European settlements is estimated to have been between 200,000
Belgium the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, the North Sea to the northwest, it has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; the sovereign state is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Its institutional organisation is structured on both regional and linguistic grounds, it is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, the Brussels-Capital Region. Brussels is the smallest and most densely populated region, as well as the richest region in terms of GDP per capita. Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups or Communities: the Dutch-speaking Flemish Community, which constitutes about 59 percent of the population, the French-speaking Community, which comprises about 40 percent of all Belgians. A small German-speaking Community, numbering around one percent, exists in the East Cantons.
The Brussels-Capital Region is bilingual, although French is the dominant language. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political conflicts are reflected in its political history and complex system of governance, made up of six different governments. Belgium was part of an area known as the Low Countries, a somewhat larger region than the current Benelux group of states that included parts of northern France and western Germany, its name is derived after the Roman province of Gallia Belgica. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, the area of Belgium was a prosperous and cosmopolitan centre of commerce and culture. Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, earning the moniker the "Battlefield of Europe", a reputation strengthened by both world wars; the country emerged in 1830 following the Belgian Revolution. Belgium participated in the Industrial Revolution and, during the course of the 20th century, possessed a number of colonies in Africa.
The second half of the 20th century was marked by rising tensions between the Dutch-speaking and the French-speaking citizens fueled by differences in language and culture and the unequal economic development of Flanders and Wallonia. This continuing antagonism has led to several far-reaching reforms, resulting in a transition from a unitary to a federal arrangement during the period from 1970 to 1993. Despite the reforms, tensions between the groups have remained, if not increased. Unemployment in Wallonia is more than double that of Flanders. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country's capital, Brussels. Belgium is a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area. Brussels hosts several of the EU's official seats as well as the headquarters of many major international organizations such as NATO.
Belgium is a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy. It has high standards of living, quality of life, education, is categorized as "very high" in the Human Development Index, it ranks as one of the safest or most peaceful countries in the world. The name "Belgium" is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire; the Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and West Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor. Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 15th centuries.
Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces and the Southern Netherlands; the latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theatre of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region; the reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815, after the defeat of Napo
Switzerland the Swiss Confederation, is a country situated in western and southern Europe. It consists of 26 cantons, the city of Bern is the seat of the federal authorities; the sovereign state is a federal republic bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. Switzerland is a landlocked country geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2. While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of 8.5 million people is concentrated on the plateau, where the largest cities are to be found: among them are the two global cities and economic centres Zürich and Geneva. The establishment of the Old Swiss Confederacy dates to the late medieval period, resulting from a series of military successes against Austria and Burgundy. Swiss independence from the Holy Roman Empire was formally recognized in the Peace of Westphalia in 1648; the country has a history of armed neutrality going back to the Reformation.
It pursues an active foreign policy and is involved in peace-building processes around the world. In addition to being the birthplace of the Red Cross, Switzerland is home to numerous international organisations, including the second largest UN office. On the European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association, but notably not part of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Eurozone. However, it participates in the Schengen Area and the European Single Market through bilateral treaties. Spanning the intersection of Germanic and Romance Europe, Switzerland comprises four main linguistic and cultural regions: German, French and Romansh. Although the majority of the population are German-speaking, Swiss national identity is rooted in a common historical background, shared values such as federalism and direct democracy, Alpine symbolism. Due to its linguistic diversity, Switzerland is known by a variety of native names: Schweiz. On coins and stamps, the Latin name – shortened to "Helvetia" – is used instead of the four national languages.
Switzerland is one of the most developed countries in the world, with the highest nominal wealth per adult and the eighth-highest per capita gross domestic product according to the IMF. Switzerland ranks at or near the top globally in several metrics of national performance, including government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic competitiveness and human development. Zürich and Basel have all three been ranked among the top ten cities in the world in terms of quality of life, with the first ranked second globally, according to Mercer in 2018; the English name Switzerland is a compound containing Switzer, an obsolete term for the Swiss, in use during the 16th to 19th centuries. The English adjective Swiss is a loan from French Suisse in use since the 16th century; the name Switzer is from the Alemannic Schwiizer, in origin an inhabitant of Schwyz and its associated territory, one of the Waldstätten cantons which formed the nucleus of the Old Swiss Confederacy. The Swiss began to adopt the name for themselves after the Swabian War of 1499, used alongside the term for "Confederates", used since the 14th century.
The data code for Switzerland, CH, is derived from Latin Confoederatio Helvetica. The toponym Schwyz itself was first attested in 972, as Old High German Suittes perhaps related to swedan ‘to burn’, referring to the area of forest, burned and cleared to build; the name was extended to the area dominated by the canton, after the Swabian War of 1499 came to be used for the entire Confederation. The Swiss German name of the country, Schwiiz, is homophonous to that of the canton and the settlement, but distinguished by the use of the definite article; the Latin name Confoederatio Helvetica was neologized and introduced after the formation of the federal state in 1848, harking back to the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic, appearing on coins from 1879, inscribed on the Federal Palace in 1902 and after 1948 used in the official seal.. Helvetica is derived from the Helvetii, a Gaulish tribe living on the Swiss plateau before the Roman era. Helvetia appears as a national personification of the Swiss confederacy in the 17th century with a 1672 play by Johann Caspar Weissenbach.
Switzerland has existed as a state in its present form since the adoption of the Swiss Federal Constitution in 1848. The precursors of Switzerland established a protective alliance at the end of the 13th century, forming a loose confederation of states which persisted for centuries; the oldest traces of hominid existence in Switzerland date back about 150,000 years. The oldest known farming settlements in Switzerland, which were found at Gächlingen, have been dated to around 5300 BC; the earliest known cultural tribes of the area were members of the Hallstatt and La Tène cultures, named after the archaeological site of La Tène on the north side of Lake Neuchâtel. La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age from around 450 BC under some influence from the Gree
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
A brand is an overall experience of a customer that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer. Brands are used in business and advertising. Name brands are sometimes distinguished from generic or store brands; the practice of branding is thought to have begun with the ancient Egyptians, who were known to have engaged in livestock branding as early as 2,700 BCE. Branding was used to differentiate one person’s cattle from another's by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron. If a person stole any of the cattle, anyone else who saw the symbol could deduce the actual owner. However, the term has been extended to mean a strategic personality for a product or company, so that ‘brand’ now suggests the values and promises that a consumer may perceive and buy into. Over time, the practice of branding objects extended to a broader range of packaging and goods offered for sale including oil, wine and fish sauce. Branding in terms of painting a cow with symbols or colors at flea markets was considered to be one of the oldest forms of the practice.
Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. The key components that form a brand's toolbox include a brand’s identity, brand communication, brand awareness, brand loyalty, various branding strategies. Many companies believe that there is little to differentiate between several types of products in the 21st century, therefore branding is one of a few remaining forms of product differentiation. Brand equity is the measurable totality of a brand's worth and is validated by assessing the effectiveness of these branding components; as markets become dynamic and fluctuating, brand equity is a marketing technique to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, with side effects like reduced price sensitivity. A brand is, in essence, a promise to its customers of what they can expect from products and may include emotional as well as functional benefits.
When a customer is familiar with a brand, or favours it incomparably to its competitors, this is when a corporation has reached a high level of brand equity. Special accounting standards have been devised to assess brand equity. In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset, is the most valuable asset on a corporation’s balance sheet. Brand owners manage their brands to create shareholder value, brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a monetary value to a brand, allows marketing investment to be managed to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company's balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value; the word ‘brand’ is used as a metonym referring to the company, identified with a brand. Marque or make are used to denote a brand of motor vehicle, which may be distinguished from a car model. A concept brand is a brand, associated with an abstract concept, like breast cancer awareness or environmentalism, rather than a specific product, service, or business.
A commodity brand is a brand associated with a commodity. The word, derives from its original and current meaning as a firebrand, a burning piece of wood; that word comes from the Old High German and Old English byrnan and brinnan via Middle English as birnan and brond. Torches were used to indelibly mark items such as furniture and pottery, to permanently burn identifying marks into the skin of slaves and livestock; the firebrands were replaced with branding irons. The marks themselves took on the term and came to be associated with craftsmen's products. Through that association, the term acquired its current meaning. Branding and labelling have an ancient history. Branding began with the practice of branding livestock in order to deter theft. Images of the branding of cattle occur in ancient Egyptian tombs dating to around 2,700 BCE. Over time, purchasers realised that the brand provided information about origin as well as about ownership, could serve as a guide to quality. Branding was adapted by farmers and traders for use on other types of goods such as pottery and ceramics.
Forms of branding or proto-branding emerged spontaneously and independently throughout Africa and Europe at different times, depending on local conditions. Seals, which acted as quasi-brands, have been found on early Chinese products of the Qin Dynasty. Identity marks, such as stamps on ceramics, were used in ancient Egypt. Diana Twede has argued that the "consumer packaging functions of protection and communication have been necessary whenever packages were the object of transactions", she has shown that amphorae used in Mediterranean trade between 1,500 and 500 BCE exhibited a wide variety of shapes and markings, which consumers used to glean information about the type of goods and the quality. Systematic use of stamped labels dates from around the fourth century BCE. In a pre-literate society, the shape of the amphora and its pictorial markings conveyed information about the contents, region of o
New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and 1,000 kilometres south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia and Tonga; because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal and plant life; the country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington. Sometime between 1250 and 1300, Polynesians settled in the islands that were named New Zealand and developed a distinctive Māori culture. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European to sight New Zealand. In 1840, representatives of the United Kingdom and Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi, which declared British sovereignty over the islands.
In 1841, New Zealand became a colony within the British Empire and in 1907 it became a dominion. Today, the majority of New Zealand's population of 4.9 million is of European descent. Reflecting this, New Zealand's culture is derived from Māori and early British settlers, with recent broadening arising from increased immigration; the official languages are English, Māori, NZ Sign Language, with English being dominant. A developed country, New Zealand ranks in international comparisons of national performance, such as quality of life, education, protection of civil liberties, economic freedom. New Zealand underwent major economic changes during the 1980s, which transformed it from a protectionist to a liberalised free-trade economy; the service sector dominates the national economy, followed by the industrial sector, agriculture. Nationally, legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament, while executive political power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by the prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
Queen Elizabeth II is the country's monarch and is represented by a governor-general Dame Patsy Reddy. In addition, New Zealand is organised into 11 regional councils and 67 territorial authorities for local government purposes; the Realm of New Zealand includes Tokelau. New Zealand is a member of the United Nations, Commonwealth of Nations, ANZUS, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, ASEAN Plus Six, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Pacific Community and the Pacific Islands Forum. Dutch explorer Abel Tasman sighted New Zealand in 1642 and named it Staten Land "in honour of the States General", he wrote, "it is possible that this land joins to the Staten Land but it is uncertain", referring to a landmass of the same name at the southern tip of South America, discovered by Jacob Le Maire in 1616. In 1645, Dutch cartographers renamed the land Nova Zeelandia after the Dutch province of Zeeland. British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand. Aotearoa is the current Māori name for New Zealand.
It is unknown whether Māori had a name for the whole country before the arrival of Europeans, with Aotearoa referring to just the North Island. Māori had several traditional names for the two main islands, including Te Ika-a-Māui for the North Island and Te Waipounamu or Te Waka o Aoraki for the South Island. Early European maps labelled the islands North and South. In 1830, maps began to use North and South to distinguish the two largest islands and by 1907 this was the accepted norm; the New Zealand Geographic Board discovered in 2009 that the names of the North Island and South Island had never been formalised, names and alternative names were formalised in 2013. This set the names as North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui, South Island or Te Waipounamu. For each island, either its English or Māori name can be used. New Zealand was one of the last major landmasses settled by humans. Radiocarbon dating, evidence of deforestation and mitochondrial DNA variability within Māori populations suggest New Zealand was first settled by Eastern Polynesians between 1250 and 1300, concluding a long series of voyages through the southern Pacific islands.
Over the centuries that followed, these settlers developed a distinct culture now known as Māori. The population was divided into iwi and hapū who would sometimes cooperate, sometimes compete and sometimes fight against each other. At some point a group of Māori migrated to Rēkohu, now known as the Chatham Islands, where they developed their distinct Moriori culture; the Moriori population was all but wiped out between 1835 and 1862 because of Taranaki Māori invasion and enslavement in the 1830s, although European diseases contributed. In 1862 only 101 survived, the last known full-blooded Moriori died in 1933; the first Europeans known to have reached New Zeala