Introduction    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Settled by both Britain and France during the first half of the 19th century, the island was made a French possession in 1853. It served as a penal colony for four decades after 1864. Agitation for independence during the 1980s and early 1990s ended in the 1998 Noumea Accord, which over a period of 15 to 20 years will transfer an increasing amount of governing responsibility from France to New Caledonia. The agreement also commits France to conduct a referendum between 2014 and 2019 to decide whether New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.
   Geography    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates:
21 30 S, 165 30 E
Map references:
total: 18,575 sq km
land: 18,275 sq km
water: 300 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
0 km
2,254 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid
coastal plains with interior mountains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mont Panie 1,628 m
Natural resources:
nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper
Land use:
arable land: 0.32%
permanent crops: 0.22%
other: 99.46% (2005)
Irrigated land:
100 sq km (2008)
Natural hazards:
cyclones, most frequent from November to March
volcanism: Matthew and Hunter Islands are historically active
Environment - current issues:
erosion caused by mining exploitation and forest fires
Geography - note:
consists of the main island of New Caledonia (one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean), the archipelago of Iles Loyaute, and numerous small, sparsely populated islands and atolls
   People    Newcaledonia Top of Page
260,166 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 24.9% (male 32,653/female 31,236)
15-64 years: 67.3% (male 86,865/female 85,578)
65 years and over: 7.8% (male 8,954/female 10,989) (2011 est.)
Median age:
total: 30.1 years
male: 29.6 years
female: 30.7 years (2011 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.489% (2012 est.)
Birth rate:
16.05 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death rate:
5.34 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net migration rate:
4.18 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2012 est.)
urban population: 57% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major cities - population:
NOUMEA (capital) 144,000 (2009)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2012 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 5.62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.64 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.56 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.94 years
male: 72.88 years
female: 81.2 years (2012 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.04 children born/woman (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: New Caledonian(s)
adjective: New Caledonian
Ethnic groups:
Melanesian 44.1%, European 34.1%, Wallisian & Futunian 9%, Tahitian 2.6%, Indonesian 2.5%, Vietnamese 1.4%, Ni-Vanuatu 1.1%, other 5.2% (1996 census)
Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, other 10%
French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.2%
male: 96.8%
female: 95.5% (1996 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: NA
male: NA
female: NA
Education expenditures:
   Government    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Country name:
conventional long form: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies
conventional short form: New Caledonia
local long form: Territoire des Nouvelle-Caledonie et Dependances
local short form: Nouvelle-Caledonie
Dependency status:
territorial collectivity (or a sui generis collectivity) of France since 1998
Government type:
name: Noumea
geographic coordinates: 22 16 S, 166 27 E
time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
none (overseas territory of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 3 provinces named Province des Iles, Province Nord, and Province Sud
none (overseas territory of France); note - a referendum on independence was held in 1998 but did not pass; a new referendum is scheduled to take place between 2014 and 2019
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - the local holiday is New Caledonia Day, 24 September (1853)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
civil law system based on French law; the 1988 Matignon Accords grant substantial autonomy to the islands
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007); represented by High Commissioner Albert DUPUY (since 6 October 2010)
head of government: President of the Government Harold MARTIN (since 3 March 2011); note - since 3 March 2011, three different governments of Harold MARTIN have collapsed over the choice of a flag that will be used while it is being decolonized; President MARTIN is head of a caretaker government
cabinet: Cabinet consisting of 11 members elected from and by the Territorial Congress
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the government elected by the members of the Territorial Congress for a five-year term (no term limits); note - last election held on 10 June 2011 (next to be held June 2016)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Territorial Congress or Congres du territoire (54 seats; members belong to the three Provincial Assemblies, or Assemblees Provinciales, elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 9 May 2009 (next to be held on 10 May 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 13, Caledonia Together 10, UC 8, UNI 8, AE 6, FLNKS 3, Labor Party 3, other 3
note: the Customary Senate is the assembly of the various traditional councils of the Kanaks, the indigenous population, which rules on laws affecting the indigenous population; New Caledonia holds two seats in the French Senate; elections last held on 21 September 2008 (next to be held not later than September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2; New Caledonia also elects two seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held on 10 and 17 June 2007 (next to be held in June 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; County Courts; Joint Commerce Tribunal Court; Children's Court
Political parties and leaders:
Caledonia My Country; Caledonia Together [Philippe GOMES]; Caledonian Union or UC [Nicholas ABOUT]; Communist Republican and Left Party or CRC-SPG [Nichole BORVO COHEN-SEAT]; Democratic and European Social Rally or R.D.S.E. [Yvon COLLIN]; Front National or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM); Labor Party [Louis Kotra UREGEI]; National Union for Independence or UNI; Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE]; Renewed Caledonian Union; Socialist Group [Jean Pierre BEL]; Socialist Kanak Liberation or LKS [Nidoish NAISSELINE]; The Future Together or AE [Didier LEROUX]; The Rally or UMP [Gerard LONGUET]; Union Nationale pour l'Independance or UNI; Union of Pro-Independence Co-operation Committees [Francois BURCK]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (overseas territory of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (overseas territory of France)
Flag description:
the flag of France is used
National symbol(s):
kagu bird
National anthem:

name: "Soyons unis, devenons freres" (Let Us Be United, Let Us Become Brothers)
lyrics/music: Chorale Melodia (a local choir)
note: adopted 2008; the anthem contains a mixture of lyrics in both French and Nengone (an indigenous language); as a self-governing territory of France, in addition to the local anthem, "La Marseillaise" is official (see France)
   Economy    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Economy - overview:
New Caledonia has about 25% of the world's known nickel resources. Only a small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, substantial financial support from France - equal to more than 15% of GDP - and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. Substantial new investment in the nickel industry, combined with the recovery of global nickel prices, brightens the economic outlook for the next several years.
GDP (purchasing power parity):

$3.158 billion (2003 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):

$3.3 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita (PPP):

$15,000 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 27.1%
services: 70.8% (2011 est.)
Labor force:

102,600 (2007)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 20%
industry: 20%
services: 60% (2002)
Unemployment rate:

17.1% (2004)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed):
27.9% of GDP (2011 est.)
revenues: $996 million
expenditures: $1.072 billion (2001 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
30.2% of GDP (2001 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-2.3% of GDP (2001 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2011 est.) 2.7% (2010 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products; fish
nickel mining and smelting
Electricity - production:
1.8 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
1.674 billion kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil - consumption:
14,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil - exports:
648.3 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Oil - imports:
14,330 bbl/day (2009 est.)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2009 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
$969.4 million (2009 est.)
Exports - commodities:
ferronickels, nickel ore, fish
Exports - partners:
Japan 19.8%, France 16.7%, South Korea 10.5%, Australia 8.1%, Spain 6.7%, US 4.9% (2010)
$2.58 billion (2009 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
France 31.8%, China 14.1%, Singapore 13.8%, Australia 11.4%, NZ 4.3% (2010)
Debt - external:
$79 million (1998 est.)
Exchange rates:
Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar -90.01 (2011 est.),90.01 (2010 est.)
   Communications    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
72,200 (2010)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
220,800 (2010)
Telephone system:
general assessment: a submarine cable network connection between New Caledonia and Australia, completed in 2007, is expected to significantly increase network capacity and improve high-speed connectivity and access to international networks
domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership exceeds 100 per 100 persons
international: country code - 687; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2008)
Broadcast media:
the publicly-owned French Overseas Network (RFO), which operates in France's overseas departments and territories, broadcasts over the RFO Nouvelle Caledonie television and radio stations; a small number of privately-owned radio stations also broadcast (2008)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
6 (plus 25 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
22,456 (2010)
Internet users:
85,000 (2009)
   Transportation    Newcaledonia Top of Page
25 (2010)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 12
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2010)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 8 (2010)
8 (2010)
total: 5,622 km (2006)
Merchant marine:

registered in other countries: 3 (France 3) (2010)
Ports and terminals:
   Military    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Military branches:
no regular military forces; French military, police, and gendarmerie (2009)
Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 68,219 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 56,233
females age 16-49: 55,983 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 2,272
female: 2,167 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
defense is the responsibility of France
   Transnational Issues    Newcaledonia Top of Page
Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by France and Vanuatu

This page was last updated on 14 May 2009


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