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New Caledonia country facts

Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies Australia-Oceania Noumea 267,840 inhabitants 18,575 sq km 14.42 inhabitants/sq km Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) self-governing territory of France population evolution



Settled by both Britain and France during the first half of the 19th century, the island became 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 2018 to decide whether New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.



Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia

Geographic coordinates

21 30 S, 165 30 E

Area (sq km)

total: 18,575 sq km
land: 18,275 sq km
water: 300 sq km

Area - comparative (sq km)

slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (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 (m)

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: 0.38%
permanent crops: 0.27%
other: 99.34% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

100 sq km (2003)

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 and Society


noun: New Caledonian(s)
adjective: New Caledonian

Ethnic groups (%)

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.)

Languages (%)

French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

Religions (%)

Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, other 10%


267,840 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 23.6% (male 32,311/female 30,926)
15-24 years: 17% (male 23,218/female 22,260)
25-54 years: 42.8% (male 57,646/female 56,939)
55-64 years: 8.1% (male 10,698/female 11,128)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 10,135/female 12,579) (2014 est.)

Age structure in New Caledonia

Median age (years)

total: 31.1 years
male: 30.4 years
female: 31.7 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

1.42% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

15.57 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

5.45 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

4.06 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 61.7% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 1.24% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

NOUMEA (capital) 157,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 5.46 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.43 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 77.31 years
male: 73.29 years
female: 81.54 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

1.99 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Drinking water source (% of population)

improved: urban: 98.5% of population
rural: 98.5% of population
total: 98.5% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.5% of population
rural: 1.5% of population
total: 1.5% of population (2012 est.)

Sanitation facility access (% of population)

improved: urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2012 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Literacy (%)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.2%
male: 96.8%
female: 95.5% (1996 census)


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

parliamentary representative democracy


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 three 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 was rejected; a new referendum is scheduled between 2014 and 2018

National holiday

Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1789); note - the local holiday is New Caledonia Day, 24 September (1853)


4 October 1958 (French Constitution with changes as reflected in Noumea Accord of 5 May 1998) (2013)

Legal system

civil law system based on French law; note - the 1988 Matignon Accords (signed in the Matignon Hotel) set up a 10-year period of development during which the Kanak community received substantial autonomy but agreed not to raise the independece issue


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012); represented by High Commissioner Jean-Jacques BROT (since 2 February 2013)
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 Harold MARTIN is head of a caretaker government
cabinet: Cabinet consists of 11 members elected from and by the Territorial Congress
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 Territorial Congress for a five-year term (no term limits); note - last election held on 10 June 2011 (next to be held in 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 11 May 2014 (next to be held on May 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'Avenir Ensemble 13, UMP 7, FLINKS 9, Union for Caledonia in France 6, Build Our Rainbow Nation 6, other 7
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 17 June 2012 (next to be held by June 2017); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Appeal in Noumea or Cour d'Appel (the highest local judicial court; organized into civil, commercial, social, and pre-trial investigation chambers; number of judges NA); Conseil d'Etat (the highest local administrative court; number of judges NA)
note - final appeals are heard before the Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation, in Paris
judge selection and term of office: NA
subordinate courts: Courts of First Instance include: civil, juvenile, commercial, labor, police, criminal, Assizes, and also a pre-trial investigation chamber; Joint Commerce Tribunal; administrative courts

Political parties and leaders

Build Our Rainbow Nation
Caledonia Together [Philippe GOMES]
Caledonian Union or UC [Daniel GOA]
Front National or FN [Marine LE PEN]
Future Together (l'Avenir Ensemble) [Harold MARTIN]
Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM)
Labor Party (Labor Party) [Louis Kotra UREGEI]
National Union for Independence (Union Nationale pour l'Independance) or UNI
Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE]
Progressive Melanesian Union (Union Progressiste Mellanesienne) or UPM
Socialist Group [Jean Pierre BEL]
Socialist Kanak Liberation or LKS [Nidoish NAISSELINE]
The Future Together or AE [Harold MARTIN]
The Rally or UMP [Pierre GROGIER]
Union for Caledonia in France
Union of Pro-Independence Co-operation Committees [Francois BURCK]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation

PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WFTU (NGOs)

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 - overview

New Caledonia has about 25% of the world's known nickel reserves. 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; during 2009-10, France sent more development assistance to New Caledonia than to any of its other overseas territories. 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)

$9.28 billion (2008 est.)
$3.158 billion (2003 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$9.28 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

0.6% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$37,700 (2008 est.)
$15,000 (2003 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 30%
services: 67.9% (2013 est.)

Labor force

106,400 (2010)

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%


revenues: $996 million
expenditures: $1.072 billion (2001 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

NA% of GDP

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

1.7% (2013 est.)
1.7% (2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares


Agriculture - products

vegetables; beef, venison, other livestock products; fish


nickel mining and smelting

Industrial production growth rate (%)

8% (2013 est.)


$1.321 billion (2012 est.)
$1.661 billion (2011 est.)

Exports - commodities (%)

ferronickels, nickel ore, fish

Exports - partners (%)

Japan 17.2%, France 16.3%, South Korea 12.3%, China 9.6%, Australia 8.4%, Belgium 4.9% (2012)


$3.245 billion (2012 est.)
$3.698 billion (2011 est.)

Imports - commodities (%)

machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners (%)

France 33.5%, Singapore 22.5%, Australia 11.7%, NZ 5.1% (2012)

External debt ($)

$79 million (1998 est.)

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar -
85.74 (2011 est.)
90.01 (2010 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

1.978 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

1.84 billion kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

499,000 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

76.8% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

15.6% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

7.6% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

13,640 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

117 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

14,670 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

3.026 million Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

80,000 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

231,000 (2012)

Telephone system

general assessment: a submarine cable network connection between New Caledonia and Australia, completed in 2007, increased network capacity and improved 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) (2010)

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 country code


Internet hosts

34,231 (2012)

Internet users

85,000 (2009)



25 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 12
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 8 (2013)


8 (2013)

Roadways (km)

total: 5,622 km (2006)

Merchant marine

registered in other countries: 3 (France 3) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Noumea


Military branches

no regular military forces; French military, police, and gendarmerie (2012)

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 - note

defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by France and Vanuatu

Largest cities of New Caledonia

These are the 50 largest cities of New Caledonia ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Nouméa 93,331
2 Mont-Dore 26,237
3 Dumbéa 21,031
4 11,176
5 Païta 10,436
6 Tadine 8,261
7 Poindimié 5,157