Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the southern hemisphere comprising the mainland of the world’s smallest continent, the major island of Tasmania, and numerous other islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The neighbouring countries are Indonesia, East Timor, and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia to the northeast, and New Zealand to the southeast. Australia is the only continent occupied by a single country.
The Australian mainland has been inhabited for more than 42,000 years by indigenous Australians. After sporadic visits by fishermen from the north and then European discovery by Dutch explorers in 1606, the eastern half of Australia was later claimed by the British in 1770 and initially settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales, commencing on 26 January 1788. As the population grew and new areas were explored, another five largely self-governing Crown Colonies were established during the 19th century.
On 1 January 1901, the six colonies became a federation, and the Commonwealth of Australia was formed. Since federation, Australia has maintained a stable liberal democratic political system and remains a Commonwealth realm. The capital city is Canberra, located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The population is just over 21.3 million, with approximately 60% of the population concentrated in and around the mainland state capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, and Adelaide.
US citizens traveling to Australia must possess a valid US passport and a valid visa or ETA to enter Australia. For detailed information regarding visas and other immigration requirements for Australia, follow the link below.
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands, most notably Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands. The indigenous MÃ„ori named New Zealand Aotearoa, which is commonly translated into English as The Land of the Long White Cloud. The Realm of New Zealand also includes the Cook Islands and Niue, which are self-governing but in free association; Tokelau; and the Ross Dependency (New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica).
New Zealand is notable for its geographic isolation, situated about 2000 km (1250 miles) southeast of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and its closest neighbors to the north are New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. During its long isolation New Zealand developed a distinctive fauna dominated by birds, many of which became extinct after the arrival of humans and the mammals they introduced.
The population is mostly of European descent, with the indigenous MÃ„ori being the largest minority. Asians and non-Maori Polynesians are also significant minorities, especially in the cities. Elizabeth II, as the Queen of New Zealand, is the Head of State and, in her absence, is represented by a non-partisan Governor-General. The Queen ‘reigns but does not rule.’ She has no real political influence, and her position is essentially symbolic. Political power is held by the democratically elected Parliament of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government.
US citizens and nationals traveling to New Zealand do not need a visa. However, they must provide travel tickets or evidence of onward travel and evidence of funds for maintenance. For detailed information regarding visa and immigration requirements for New Zealand, follow the appropriate link provided below.