New Caledonia and Dependencies

Status: Overseas Territory

President: Cynthia Ligeard (2014)

High Commissioner: Vincent Bouvier (2014)

Land area: 7,243 sq mi (18,759 sq km); total area: 7,359 sq mi (19,060 sq km)

Population (2008 est.): 224,585 (growth rate: 1.1%); birth rate: 17.4/1000; infant mortality rate: 7.2/1000; life expectancy: 74.7; density per sq mi: 12

Capital (2003 est.): Nouméa, 134,500 (metro. area), 86,400 (city proper)

Monetary unit: Pacific financial community franc

Languages: French (official), 33 Melanesian and Polynesian dialects

Ethnicity/race: Kanak (Melanesian) 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallisian 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3%

Religions: Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%

National Holiday: Bastille Day, July 14

Literacy rate: 91% (1976 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2003 est.): $3.158 billion; per capita $15,000 (2002 est.). Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: –0.6% (2000 est.). Unemployment: 19% (1996). Arable land: 0.4%. Agriculture: vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products; fish. Labor force: 79,395 (including 15,018 unemployed, 1996); agriculture 7%, industry 23%, services 70% (1999 est.). Industries: nickel mining and smelting. Natural resources: nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper. Exports: $999 million f.o.b. (2004 est.): ferronickels, nickel ore, fish. Imports: $1.636 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.): machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs. Major trading partners: Japan, France, Taiwan, South Korea, Spain, Australia, China, South Africa, Singapore, New Zealand (2004).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 52,000 (2002); mobile cellular: 80,000 (2002). Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998). Television broadcast stations: 6 (plus 25 low-power repeaters) (1997). Internet hosts: 4,449 (2003. Internet users: 60,000 (2003).

Transportation: Railways: 0 km (2002). Highways: total: 5,432 km (2000). Ports and harbors: Noumea. Airports: 25 (2004 est.).

International disputes: Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by France and Vanuatu.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of France

New Caledonia (6,466 sq mi; 16,747 sq km), about 1,070 mi (1,722 km) northeast of Sydney, Australia, was explored by Capt. James Cook in 1774 and annexed by France in 1853. The government also administers the Isle of Pines, the Loyalty Islands (Uvéa, Lifu, and Maré), the Belep Islands, the Huon Island group, and Chesterfield Islands. The native people are Melanesians called the Kanak.

In 1984, the French national assembly passed a law that granted internal autonomy to New Caledonia. In 1998, the Nouméa Accords postponed discussions about independence for the territory until at least 2013. As of 2013, New Caledonia planned to hold a referendum on independence sometime between 2014 and 2018.

See also Encyclopedia: New Caledonia.

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French Overseas Territories

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