Australia-Oceania :: New Caledonia
(self-governing territory of France)
page last updated on August 3, 2010
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 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 as many as three referenda between 2013 and 2018, to decide whether New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.
Geography ::New Caledonia
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
country comparison to the world: 155
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
Current Weather
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 (2003)
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
229,993 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.4% (male 30,998/female 29,682)
15-64 years: 66.1% (male 76,276/female 75,689)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 8,003/female 9,345) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 29 years
male: 28.5 years
female: 29.5 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.1% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 117
Birth rate:
16.71 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122
Death rate:
5.71 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
Net migration rate:
note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2009 est.)
urban population: 65% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 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: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.91 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 170
male: 7.55 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.21 years
country comparison to the world: 87
male: 72.21 years
female: 78.36 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.15 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 119
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)
Government ::New Caledonia
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 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 for 2014
National holiday:
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:
based on French civil 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 Yves DASSONVILLE (since 9 November 2007)
head of government: President of the Government Philippe GOMES (since 5 June 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet consisting of 11 members elected from and by the Territorial Congress
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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 5 June 2009
Legislative branch:
elections: 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) 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: 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:
Alliance pour la Caledonie or APLC [Didier LE ROUX]; Caledonia Together [Philippe GOMES]; Caledonian Union or UC [Charles PIDJOT]; Federation des Comites de Coordination des Independantistes or FCCI [Francois BURCK]; Front National or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; Front Uni de Liberation Kanak or FULK [Ernest UNE]; Labor Party or PT [Louis Kora UREGEI]; Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM); Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE]; Rally for Caledonia or RPC [Jacques LAFLEUR]; The Future Together or AE [Didier LEROUX]; The Rally or UMP [Pierre FROGIER]; Union Nationale pour l'Independance or UNI; Union Progressiste Melanesienne or UPM [Victor TUTUGORO]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
ITUC, PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, 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. 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.)
country comparison to the world: 172
GDP (official exchange rate):
$3.3 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$15,000 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 15%
industry: 8.8%
services: 76.2% (2003)
Labor force:
102,600 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 182
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 20%
industry: 20%
services: 60% (2002)
Unemployment rate:
17.1% (2004)
country comparison to the world: 160
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.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.4% (2000 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
Market value of publicly traded shares:
Agriculture - products:
vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products; fish
nickel mining and smelting
Electricity - production:
1.825 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
Electricity - consumption:
1.697 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
Oil - consumption:
13,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
Oil - exports:
645 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 125
Oil - imports:
14,430 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 156
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 86
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
$1.341 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 140
Exports - commodities:
ferronickels, nickel ore, fish
Exports - partners:
France 27.52%, Japan 14.87%, Taiwan 10.51%, Spain 7.74%, China 7.31%, Australia 6.64%, Belgium 5.13%, South Korea 4.2% (2009)
$1.998 billion (2006)
country comparison to the world: 153
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners:
France 39.89%, Singapore 14.12%, Australia 12.5%, NZ 5.42% (2009)
Debt - external:
$79 million (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
Exchange rates:
Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar - 87.59 (2007), 94.97 (2006), 95.89 (2005), 96.04 (2004), 105.66 (2003)
Communications ::New Caledonia
Telephones - main lines in use:
63,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 157
Telephones - mobile cellular:
196,500 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 172
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)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
6 (plus 25 repeaters) (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
22,448 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 101
Internet users:
85,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 159
Transportation ::New Caledonia
25 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 130
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 12
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 1 (2009)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 8 (2009)
8 (2009)
total: 5,622 km (2006)
country comparison to the world: 150
Merchant marine:
total: 2
country comparison to the world: 144
by type: cargo 1, passenger/cargo 1 (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Military ::New Caledonia
Military branches:
no regular military forces; French military, police, and gendarmerie (2009)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 59,612 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 49,173
females age 16-49: 49,619 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 2,138
female: 2,061 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
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

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)