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Flag of New Caledonia
Map of New Caledonia
Introduction New Caledonia
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 seems to have dissipated.
Geography New Caledonia
Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates:
21 30 S, 165 30 E
Map references:
total: 19,060 sq km
water: 485 sq km
land: 18,575 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries:
0 km
2,254 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 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: 0.38%
permanent crops: 0.33%
other: 99.29% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
160 sq km (1991)
Natural hazards:
cyclones, most frequent from November to March
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 New Caledonia
207,858 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% (male 31,862; female 30,577)
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 67,043; female 66,102)
65 years and over: 5.9% (male 5,777; female 6,497) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.43% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
19.91 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
5.62 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
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: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
8.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.27 years
female: 76.36 years (2002 est.)
male: 70.32 years
Total fertility rate:
2.44 children born/woman (2002 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 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallisian 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3%
Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, other 10%
French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91%
male: 92%
female: 90% (1976 est.)
Government New Caledonia
Country name:
conventional long form: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies
conventional short form: New Caledonia
local short form: Nouvelle-Caledonie
local long form: Territoire des Nouvelle-Caledonie et Dependances
Dependency status:
overseas territory of France since 1956
Government type:
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 Iles Loyaute, Nord, and Sud
none (overseas territory of France); note - a referendum on independence was held in 1998 but did not pass; a new referendum is scheduled for 2014
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
28 September 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
the 1988 Matignon Accords grant substantial autonomy to the islands; formerly under French law
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President of France Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995), represented by High Commissioner Daniel CONSTANTIN (since 3 July 2002)
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; note - last election held 28 November 2002 when Pierre FROGIER was reelected
head of government: President of the Government Pierre FROGIER (since 5 April 2001)
cabinet: Consultative Committee
Legislative branch:
unicameral Territorial Congress or Congres Territorial (54 seats; members are members of the three Provincial Assemblies or Assemblees Provinciales elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 9 May 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RPCR 24, FLNKS 12, UNI 6, FCCI 4, FN 4, Alliance pour la Caledonie 3, LKS 1
note: New Caledonia elects 1 seat to the French Senate; elections last held 24 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; New Caledonia also elects 2 seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held 9 and 16 June 2002 (next to be held 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch:
Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; County Courts; Joint Commerce Tribunal Court; Children's Court
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance pour la Caledonie or APLC [Didier LE ROUX]; Federation des Comites de Coordination des Independantistes or FCCI [Raphael MAPOU]; Front National or FN [Guy GEORGE]; Front Uni de Liberation Kanak or FULK [Ernest UNE]; Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS [Rock WAMYTAN] (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM); Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE and Elie POIGOUNE]; Rally for Caledonia in the Republic or RPCR [Jacques LAFLEUR]; Union Nationale pour l'Independance or UNI [Paul NEAOUTYINE]; note - may no longer exist, but Paul NEAOUTYINE has since become a president of Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA; Union Progressiste Melanesienne or UPM [Victor TUTUGORO]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WFTU, WMO
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
Economy New Caledonia
Economy - overview:
New Caledonia has about 25% of the world's known nickel resources. In recent years, the economy has suffered because of depressed international demand for nickel, the principal source of export earnings. Only a small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, the substantial financial support from France and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. The situation in 1998 was clouded by the spillover of financial problems in East Asia and by lower prices for nickel. Nickel prices jumped in 1999-2000, and large additions were made to capacity. Strikes in the building industry in 2001, which lasted four months, adversely affected many other sectors of the economy. French Government interests in the New Caledonian nickel industry are being transferred to local ownership.
purchasing power parity - $3.1 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.1% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $15,000 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 30%
services: 65% (1997 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.3% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
79,395 (including 15,018 unemployed, 1996)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 7%, industry 23%, services 70% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate:
19% (1996)
revenues: $861.3 million
expenditures: $735.3 million, including capital expenditures of $52 million (1996 est.)
nickel mining and smelting
Industrial production growth rate:
-0.6% (1996)
Electricity - production:
1.565 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 78%
hydro: 22%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
1.455 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products
$400 million f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities:
ferronickels, nickel ore, fish
Exports - partners:
Japan 25.8%, France 18.8%, Taiwan 12%, Australia 8.2%, US 3.0% (1999)
$1 billion f.o.b. (2000)
Imports - commodities:
transport equipment, machinery and electrical equipment, fuels, minerals, wine, sugar, rice
Imports - partners:
France 50.2%, Australia 15.1%, Singapore 5.9%, New Zealand 5.2%, Japan 3.7% (1999)
Debt - external:
$79 million (1998 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$880 million annual subsidy from France
Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF); note - may adopt the euro in 2003
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar - 135.04 (January 2002), 133.26 (2001), 129.44 (2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997); note - linked at the rate of 119.25 XPF to the euro
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications New Caledonia
Telephones - main lines in use:
47,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
13,040 (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998)
107,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
6 (plus 25 low-power repeaters) (1997)
52,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
24,000 (2001)
Transportation New Caledonia
0 km (2002)
total: 4,825 km
paved: 2,287 km
unpaved: 2,538 km (1999)
Ports and harbors:
Mueo, Noumea, Thio
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,261 GRT/1,600 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1
note: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: Malaysia 1 (2002 est.)
29 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 9
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 2 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 12
under 914 m: 9 (2002)
5 (2002)
Military New Caledonia
Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; French Armed Forces (including Army, Navy, Air Force, Gendarmerie); Police Force
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$192.3 million (FY96)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
5.3% (FY96)
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of France
Transnational Issues New Caledonia
Disputes - international:
Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by France and Vanuatu

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003