Christchurch (/ˈkraɪstʃɜːrtʃ/ KREYESS-church; Māori: Ōtautahi) is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the seat of the Canterbury Region. The Christchurch urban area lies on the South Island's east coast, just north of Banks Peninsula. The urban area is home to 383,200 residents, and the territorial authority has 394,700 people, which makes it the second-most populous city in New Zealand after Auckland and before Wellington. The Avon River flows through the centre of the city, with an urban park located along its banks.
Archaeological evidence has indicated that people first settled in the Christchurch area in about 1250. Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter on 31 July 1856, making it officially the oldest established city in New Zealand. The Canterbury Association, which settled the Canterbury Plains, named the city after Christ Church, Oxford. The new settlement was laid out in a grid pattern centred on Cathedral Square; during the 19th century there were few barriers to the rapid growth of the urban area, except for the Pacific to the east and the Port Hills to the south.
Agriculture is the historic mainstay of Christchurch's economy. The early presence of the University of Canterbury and the heritage of the city's academic institutions in association with local businesses has fostered a number of technology-based industries. Christchurch is one of five 'gateway cities' for Antarctic exploration, hosting Antarctic support bases for several nations.
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