Wellington, New Zealand, the nation's capital. The city is at the southern tip of the North Island. At this point Cook Strait forms a deep inlet, 3 miles (5 km) across and 12 miles (19 km) wide. On all sides of the flat, narrow shore rise steep hills. Wellington is at the head of this natural harbor. The business and government district occupy the shore, while residences lie on terraces rising into the hills.
Wellington is a major shipping center for island and overseas trade. Fishing is an important industry. The city's products include clothing and textiles, transportation equipment, chemicals, and processed foods. Wellington International Airport is south of the city.
Clustered around the Civic Centre are many of Wellington's cultural attractions, including the City Art Gallery, the Circa Theatre, the Central Library, and the Michael Fowler Centre, where the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performs. South of the Civic Centre are the State Opera House and the National Art Gallery and Museum, which has a notable collection of Maori art. Victoria University is Wellington's largest institution of higher learning.
Wellington was founded in 1840 by colonists sponsored by Edward Gibbon Wakefield's New Zealand Association; it was New Zealand's first permanent European settlement. In 1865 Wellington replaced Auckland as the dominion capital. The surrounding hills limit Wellington's expansion, but suburban towns are rapidly growing in outlying valleys.