New Caledonia and Dependencies
Status: Overseas Territory
President: Philippe Germain (2015)
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 (2014 est.): 267,840 (growth rate: 1.42%); birth rate: 15.57/1000; infant mortality rate: 5.46/1000; life expectancy: 77.31
Capital (2011 est.): Nouméa, 157,000
Monetary unit: Pacific financial community franc
Languages: French (official), 33 Melanesian and Polynesian dialects
Ethnicity/race: Kanak 40.3%, European 29.2%, Wallisian, Futunian 8.7%, Tahitian 2%, Indonesian 1.6%, Vietnamese 1%, Ni-Vanuatu 0.9%, other 16.2% (2009 est.)
Religions: Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, other 10%
National Holiday: Bastille Day, July 14
Literacy rate: 96.2% (1996 est.)
Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2008 est.): $9.28 billion; per capita $37,700 (2008 est.). Real growth rate: 0.6%. Inflation:1.7% (2013 est.). Unemployment: 17.1% (2004). Arable land: 0.38%. Agriculture: vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products; fish. Labor force: 106,400 (2010); agriculture 20%, industry 20%, services 60% (2002 est.). Industries: nickel mining and smelting. Natural resources: nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper. Exports: $1.321 billion (2012 est.): ferronickels, nickel ore, fish. Imports: $3.245 billion (2012 est.): machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs. Major trading partners: Japan, France, South Korea, Australia, China, Singapore, New Zealand, Belgium (2012).
Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 80,000 (2012); mobile cellular: 231,000 (2012). Broadcast media: the publicly owned French Overseas Network (RFO), which operates in France's overseas departments and territories, broadcasts over the RFO Nouvelle Caledonie TV and radio stations; a small number of privately owned radio stations also broadcast (2008). Internet hosts: 34,231 (2012). Internet users: 85,000 (2009).
Transportation: Railways: 0 km (2002). Roadways: total: 5,622 km (2006). Ports and harbors: Noumea. Airports: 25 (2013).
International disputes: Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by France and Vanuatu.
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.