New Caledonia Overview

New Caledonia Overview

General information: Settled by the British and French during the first half of the 19th century. the island became a possession of France in 1853. It was used as a place of exile for criminals from 1864 for four decades. According to, the independence movement that existed during the 1980s and early 1990s seems to have fizzled out.


Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific, east of Australia.
Geographical coordinates: 21° 30′ S. latitude, 165° 30′ E
Reference map: Oceania.
Area: total: 19,060 km2; land surface area: 18,575 km2; water surface area: 485 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than New Jersey.
Land borders: 0 km.
Coastline: 2,254 km.
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical; moderated by southeast trade winds; hot, humid.
Relief: coastal plains and mountains in the center.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m; highest point: Mount Pany 1,628 m.
Natural resources: nickel, chromium, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper.
Land use: arable land: 0%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 12%; forests and plantations: 39%; others: 49% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 160 km2 (1991).
Natural Hazards: Cyclones most likely from November to March.
Current environmental issues: soil erosion caused by mining and forest fires.
International agreements on environmental protection:
Note to the section “Geography”:


Population: 204,863 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 30.31% (male 31,674; female 30,416); 15 to 64 years: 6.95% (male 66,014; female 65,006); over 65: 5.74% (male 5,548; female 6,205) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.48% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 20.37 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 5.62 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.04 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.02 male/female; over 65: 0.9 male/female; for the general population: 1.02 male/female (2001 est.);
Infant mortality: 8.4 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 73.02 years; men: 70.08 years; women: 76.11 years (2001 est.).
Total fertility rate: 2.48 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of the adult population infected with HIV: no data available.
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: New Caledonian; adjective: pertaining to New Caledonia.
Ethnic groups: Melanesian 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallis Island settlers 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3%.
Believers: Catholics 60%, Protestants 30%, others 10%.
Languages): French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 91%; men: 92%; women: 90% (1976 est.).


Conventional long form: Territory of New Capedonia and Dependent Territories;
conventional short form: New Caledonia; local long form: Territoire des Nouvelle-Caledonie et Dependances; local short form: Nouvelle-Caledonie. Dependency status: Overseas territory of France since 1956.
Government: no data.
Capital: Noumea.
Administrative divisions: none (overseas territory of France); note – there are no first-order administrative divisions according to the classification adopted by the US government, but there are 3 provinces: Loyalty Islands, North, South.
Dependent Territories:
Independence: none (overseas territory of France); note – the issue of independence was put to a referendum in 1998, but failed.
National holiday: Bastille Day, July 14 (1789).
Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system: The 1988 Matignon Accords give the islands considerable autonomy; Previously, French law applied.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: French President Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995), represented by High Commissioner Thierry LATASTE (since 19 July 1999);
head of government: President of the Government Jean LEQUES (since 28 May 1999);
Government: advisory committee; elections: the French president is elected by popular vote for a 7-year term; the High Commissioner is appointed by the President of France on the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior; the president of the government is elected by the members of the Territorial Congress.
Legislature: unicameral Territorial Congress (54 seats; members are members of the three provincial assemblies, elected by popular vote for 5 years); elections: last held 9 May 1999 (next to be held in 2004); election results: distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: RPCR 24, FLNKS 12, UNI 6, FCCI 4, FN 4, Union for Caledonia 3, LKS 1; note: New Caledonia elects 1 member of the French Senate; elections last held 27 September 1992 (next to be held in September 2001); results: distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: RPR 1; New Caledonia also elects 2 members of the French National Assembly; elections last held 25 May – 1 June 1997 (next to be held in 2002); results: distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: RPR 2.
Judiciary: Court of Appeal; district courts; United Commercial Court; Juvenile Court.
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Caledonia (Didier LEROUX); Union for the Future (Developper Ensemble pour Construire I’Avenir, DEPCA) (Robert FROU-IN); Federation of Independence Coordinating Committees (FCCI) (Leopold SOREDIE); United Kanak Liberation Front (FULK) (Ernest UNE); Interracial Alliance Group (Groupe de I’Alliance Multiracial, GAM) (Dany DALMAYRAE); Independence and Progress (Alphonse PUJAPUJA-NE); Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) (Rock WAMYTAN) (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, UPM); Another Caledonia (Denis MILLIARD [Denis MILLIARD]); Islands Loyalty Support Front (FDIL) (Kono AMU [Cono HAMU]); National Front (FN) (Guy GEORGE); Kanak Liberation Party (PALIKA) (Charles WASHETINE); Rally for Caledonia within the Republic (RPCR) (Jacques LAFLEUR); Update (Thierry VALET); Socialist Kanak Liberation Movement (LKS) (Nidoish NAISSELINE); Caledonian Union (UC) (Bernard LEPEU); National Independence Union (UNI) (Paul NEAOUTYINE); Melanesian Progressive Union (UPM) (Andre GOPEA). National Independence Union (UNI) (Paul NEAOUTYINE); Melanesian Progressive Union (UPM) (Andre GOPEA). National Independence Union (UNI) (Paul NEAOUTYINE); Melanesian Progressive Union (UPM) (Andre GOPEA).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WFTU, WMO.
Diplomatic representation in the United States: none (overseas territory of France).
US Diplomatic Representation: None (French Overseas Territory).
Flag Description: The flag of France is used.


Economic overview: New Caledonia holds over 20% of the world’s known nickel reserves. In recent years, the economy has suffered from a decline in demand for nickel, a major source of export earnings, on the world market. Only a small area of ​​land is suitable for cultivation, and food products account for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel mining, French aid and tourism are critical to the economy. The situation was overshadowed in 1998 by the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis and falling nickel prices. The French government transfers its shares in the nickel industry of New Caledonia to local owners.
GDP: Purchasing Power Parity $3 billion (1998 est.)
Real GDP growth rate: 3.5% (1998 est.).
GDP per capita: at purchasing power parity – $15,000 (1998 est.).
The composition of GDP by sectors of the economy: agriculture: 4%; industry: 30%; services: 66% (1997 est.).
Proportion of the population below the poverty line: no data available.
Percentage distribution of household income or consumption: for the poorest 10% of households: n/a; by top 10% of households: no data.
Inflation rate at consumer prices: 1.5% (1998 est.).
Labor force: 79,395 people (including 15,018 unemployed, 1996).
Employment structure: agriculture 7%, industry 23%, services 70% (1999 est.).
Unemployment rate: 19% (1996).
Budget: revenues: $861.3 million; expenses: $735.3 million, including capital expenditures of $52 million (1996 est.).
Spheres of economy: mining and smelting of nickel.
Growth in industrial production: -0.6% (1996).
Electricity generation: 1.52 billion kWh (1999)
Sources of electricity generation: fossil fuels: 78.95%; hydropower: 21.05%; nuclear fuel: 0%; others: 0% (1999).
Electricity consumption: 1.414 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity export: 0 kWh (1999).
Electricity import: 0 kWh (1999).
Agricultural products: vegetables; beef, deer, other cattle.
Export: $411 million (free on board, 1999)
Export items: ferronickel alloys, nickel ore, fish.
Export partners: Japan 27%, France 17%, Taiwan 12%, South Korea 9% (1999).
Imports: $843 million (free on board, 1999)
Imports: foodstuffs, machinery and electrical equipment, fuels, minerals, wine, sugar, rice.
Import partners: France 49%, Australia 14%, Singapore 6%, New Zealand 5%, US 5% (1999).
External debt: $79 million (1998 est.) Economic aid recipient: $880 million annual grant from France (1998).
Economic aid donor:
Currency: Pacific franc (Comptoirs Fran-cais du Pacifique franc).
Currency code: XPF.
Exchange rate: XPF/USD – 127.11 (January 2001), 129.44 (2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997), 93.00 (1996), 90.75 (1995); note – pegged to the euro at the rate of 119.25 XPF per euro.
Fiscal year: calendar year.


Telecommunications Telephone lines: 47,000 (1997).
Mobile Cell Phones: 13,040 (1998).
Telephone system: internal: no data; international: satellite earth station – 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean).
Broadcast stations: AM – 1, FM -5, shortwave – 0 (1998).
Radio receivers: 107,000 (1997).
Television broadcast stations: 6 (and 25 low power repeaters) (1997).
TVs: 52,000 (1997).
Internet country code: nc
Internet service providers: 1 (2000).
Number of users: 5,000 (2000).


Transport Railways: 0 km.
Roads: total: 4,825 km; coated: 2,287 km; unpaved: 2,538 km (1999)
Ports and harbours: Mueo, Noumea, Tio.
Merchant fleet: total: 1 ship (displacement 1,000 tons or more) with a total displacement of 1,261 gross register tons/1,600 long tons; ships of different types: cargo ships -1 (2000 est.).
Airports: 29 (2000 est.).
Airports with paved runways: total: 6; over 3,047 m: 1; from 914 to 1523 m:4; less than 914 m: 1 (2000 est.).
Airports with unpaved runways: total: 23; from 914 to 1523 m:12; less than 914 m: 11 (2000 est.). Helipads: 6 (2000 est.).

Armed forces

Branches of the armed forces: armed forces of France (army, navy, air force, gendarmerie); police.
Conscription age:
Total military manpower:
Eligible for service:
Number of persons reaching draft age each year:
Military spending in dollar terms: $192.3 million (1996).
Military spending as part of GDP: 5.3% (1996). Armed Forces – note: France is responsible for defense.

International Issues

International issues International disputes: Matthew Island and Hunter Island east of New Caledonia are claimed by Vanuatu.

New Caledonia Overview