The South Island is often compared to the multi-ethnic and much more populated North Island. South Island has a much smaller population but is more homogeneous. During the last census of 2018, it had a population of 1,149,564 permanent residents. The population of South Island is estimated to continue increasing by an average of 0.6 percent a year. There are about an equal number of males to females on the island, with only slightly more females than males.
As of 2018, 84.8 percent of the inhabitants on the South Island are of European descent, with only 10% Maori. The remaining population is split between Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Latin Americans. Some residents identify with more than one ethnicity, so the results can often exceed 100%. Roughly one-fifth of those who identify as South Islanders were born overseas, with the largest section of the Diaspora choosing to settle in England and Australia. There are three major sections of religious observance, with about equal parts Christianity to lack of religion. There is a small minority of less than 3 percent that identify with a non-Christian religion.
South Island is so named as it is one of the two major islands of the New Zealand surface area, with North Island being smaller by land mass, but much more populated. South Island is bordered by the Cook Strait and the Tasman Sea, with the remaining surroundings being the Pacific Ocean. South Island is immense, being considered the world's 12th-largest island. The climate is very temperate at low altitudes, making it a great tropical destination.
The South Island is uniquely shaped by the Alps, which run from south to north and includes New Zealand's highest peak at 12,218ft tall. The west coast of the island is well known for its rough coastline and has a large population of native bushes and national parks. Of course, the economic driver of the island is fishing and agriculture but is also a popular tourist destination that welcomes travelers domestically and internationally. South Island also has a large section of its workforce in general manufacturing and related services.
South Island makes up 56 percent of the land area of New Zealand, but makes up only 23 percent of the population.
South Island was made popular in the 1860s by European frontiersmen who came to the area for promises of gold. The rich veins in the southern alps had a plethora of gold deposits, making it an attractive area for the promising gold rushes that were happening internationally at this time. The area has stayed true to its name, as this is where the capital of Christchurch is located, and where the stock exchanges are situated. Over time, the settlers remained in the nearby towns, where there had been many caravans relocated to support the mining efforts. Over time, this enriched the area with European wealth, and many families still reside in the area today.