New Zealand is a country of two large islands and many smaller islands in the south-western Pacific Ocean. New Zealand is also known as Aotearoa in the Maori language, or the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, being separated from Australia to the northwest by the Tasman Sea, some 2,000 km (1,242 mi) across. Closest neighbours to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. The population of New Zealand is mostly of European descent, with Maori being the largest minority. Non-Maori Polynesian and Asian peoples are also significant minorities, especially in the nation's cities.
Officially, Elizabeth II is the Queen of New Zealand and is represented in the country by a non-political Governor-General; however, the Queen has no real political influence. Political power is held by the Prime Minister who is leader of the Government in the democratically elected Parliament of New Zealand. The monarch's Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are entirely self-governing; Tokelau, which is moving towards self-government, and New Zealand's claim in Antarctica.