NEW ZEALAND IS renowned for producing many excellent rugby sides over the years. But what else distinguishes it as a country?
Here are nine facts relating to the country:
- New Zealand is one of only three countries to have two official national anthems – God Save the Queen and God Defend New Zealand. The other countries are Denmark and Canada (‘Ireland’s Call’ doesn’t count).
- It is a highly liberal nation. You are legally allowed to drive when you’re 15 and have sex when you’re 16, while both gay marraige and prostitution are legal.
- It is a nation of feminist trailblazers – it gave women the right to vote in 1893, which was 25 years before Britain and the US followed suit, and was the first country to appoint its top three political positions to women: The Prime Minister (Helen Clark), the Governor General (Dame Silvia Cartwright), and the Chief Justice (Sian Elias).
- Despite their liberal, fun-loving image, New Zealand are not a nation of heavy drinkers and consume 40% less alcohol than the average Irish person.
- Rugby is unsurprisingly the most popular sport in the country with 136,059 participants (judging by club memberships), followed by golf (132,063) netball (123,069), soccer (105,000) and cricket (102,759).
- The country has an unusually small population considering its size. Just over 4 million people live there, meaning it has a smaller population than Scotland. However, in terms of size, it’s nearly 20% larger than the UK.
- Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand – it means ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.
- The country has an unusually large sheep population, with roughly nine sheep per person inhabiting the country. As a consequence, sheep meat is one of its main exports.