At the southern end of the North Island of New Zealand is the Wellington region, in which lies the city of Wellington, capital of New Zealand. Both the region an dthe city were named after the 1st Duke of Wellington, who gave aid to the first English settlers there.
The Wellington urban area lies on steep hills around the magnificent Port Nicholson harbour, a large, deep, almost landlocked natural harbour, which is among the finest in the world. It is a busy port for ships travelling across the Tasman Sea to Australia and making the long voyage across the Pacific Ocean to the Americas or Europe. It also serves coastal shipping, in particular the inter-island ferries to Picton, at the north of the South Island. Wellington also has an important airport, which is the centre of the domestic system and has some international flights.
The city of Wellington was founded in 1840, and was the first of the New Zealand Company''s Wakefield settlements. It soon became a prosperous trading centre and in 1865 replaced Auckland as the country''s capital because of its central location. The city soon grew its original area, on the west side of Port Nicholson harbour, and spread northwards.
There are two motorways and suburban railways, one linking Wellington with suburbs to the north as far as the Tasman Sea, and the other side with the towns of Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt to the northeast. A satellite suburb lies across Port Nicholson in the Wainuiomata Valley, south of Lower Hutt. The total population of the Wellington urban area is about 400,000. It is the third most populous district after Auckland and Canterbury.
Wellington, as the capital city, is the site of many fine buildings, including the parliament buildings, the National Library (which includes Alexander Turnbull Library, the country''s finest scholarly library), the Dominion Museum, the National Art Gallery, and a fine Town Hall.
Wellington is on a major geological fault line, and much of its flat foreshore land was raised above the sea in a great earthquake in 1855. Because of the danger of earthquakes, many of the older buildings have been torn down to be replaced with modern buildings - the city centre has become an area of "mini skyscrapers".
As the home of the New Zealnad Symphony Orchestra and with some fine theatres, the city boasts a rich cultural life and hosts an international arts festival. It is the site of Victoria University, founded in 1897. There are also many other colleges and several polytechnics. Wellington has fine botanical gardens and a zoo.
The city is an important banking and financial centre. Most of the industry is concentrated in the Hutt Valley. In recent years Wellington has declined as an industrial centre (in favour of Auckland). But it has prospered as a centre of government and of business, finance, transport, and communications. The population of Wellington city is about 150,000.