Manawatu-Wanganui is a region in the lower half of the North Island of New Zealand, whose main population centres are the cities of Palmerston North and Whanganui.
There are two major urban areas. Palmerston North, with a resident population of 85,300 (June 2012 estimate), expanded as an educational and supply centre for the surrounding rural hinterland. It became a city in 1930. The other central urban area is Wanganui/Whanganui, with other urban centres including Levin, Feilding, Dannevirke, Taumarunui, Foxton, and Marton. The region also includes the smaller towns of Bulls, Ohakune, Waiouru, Raetihi, Taihape, Woodville, Pahiatua, Eketahuna, Ashhurst, Foxton Beach, Turakina, Sanson, Shannon and Manakau.
City life does not dominate, as half the population live outside a large urban area and over a third in small towns or rural areas. While manufacturing has become an essential part of the economy, most businesses are agriculturally based, and agriculture remains the linchpin. The dominance of agriculture, combined with the relatively small scale of most urban areas, gives a rural quality to the region, quite distinct from the neighbouring Wellington Region. The rugged interior has become one of the main training areas for the New Zealand Defence Force, which maintains three bases in the region: RNZAF Base Ohakea, Linton Military Camp, and Waiouru Military Camp.
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