Wellington (/ˈwɛlɪŋtən/; Māori: Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara) is the capital and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with 405,000 residents. It is at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. Wellington is the major population centre of the southern North Island and is the administrative centre of the Wellington Region, which also includes the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa. It is the world’s windiest city, with an average wind speed of over 26 km/h, and the world’s southernmost capital of a sovereign state.
The Wellington urban area comprises four local authorities: Wellington City, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district and about half the population; Porirua on Porirua Harbour to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley.
Situated near the geographic centre of the country, Wellington was well placed for trade. In 1839 it was chosen as the first major planned settlement for British immigrants coming to New Zealand. The settlement was named in honour of the Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and victor of the Battle of Waterloo.
As the nation’s capital since 1865, the New Zealand Government and Parliament, Supreme Court and most of the civil service are based in the city. Despite being much smaller than Auckland, Wellington is also referred to as New Zealand’s cultural capital. The city is home to the National Archives, the National Library, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, numerous theatres and two universities. Architectural sights include the Government Building—one of the largest wooden buildings in the world—as well as the iconic Beehive. Wellington plays host to many artistic and cultural organisations, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Royal New Zealand Ballet. It has a lively urban culture, with many cafés, restaurants and performance venues. One of the world’s most liveable cities, the 2014 Mercer Quality of Living Survey ranked Wellington 12th in the world.
Wellington’s economy is primarily service-based, with an emphasis on finance, business services, and government. It is the centre of New Zealand’s film and special effects industries, and increasingly a hub for information technology and innovation. Wellington ranks as one of New Zealand’s chief seaports and serves both domestic and international shipping. The city is served by Wellington International Airport, the third busiest airport in the country. Wellington’s transport network includes train and bus lines which reach as far as the Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa, and ferries connect the city to the South Island.
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