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

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


mean elevation: NA
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

agricultural land: 10.4%
arable land 0.4%; permanent crops 0.2%; permanent pasture 9.8%
forest: 45.9%
other: 43.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

100 sq km (2012)

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

Population growth rate

1.35% (2016 est.)


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


275,355 (July 2016 est.)


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.)


French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

Age structure

0-14 years: 22.78% (male 32,057/female 30,681)
15-24 years: 16.7% (male 23,496/female 22,500)
25-54 years: 43.26% (male 59,986/female 59,127)
55-64 years: 8.29% (male 11,085/female 11,739)
65 years and over: 8.96% (male 10,979/female 13,705) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.9%
youth dependency ratio: 32.9%
elderly dependency ratio: 15%
potential support ratio: 6.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 31.7 years
male: 31 years
female: 32.4 years (2016 est.)

Birth rate

15.2 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

5.6 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

4 migrant(s)/1,000 population
note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2016 est.)


urban population: 70.2% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 2.17% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

NOUMEA (capital) 181,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 5.3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.7 years
male: 73.7 years
female: 81.9 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.95 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Drinking water source

urban: 98.5% of population
rural: 98.5% of population
total: 98.5% of population
urban: 1.5% of population
rural: 1.5% of population
total: 1.5% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.9%
male: 97.3%
female: 96.5% (2015 est.)


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
etymology: British explorer Captain James COOK discovered and named New Caledonia in 1774; he used the appellation because the northeast of the island reminded him of Scotland (Caledonia is the Latin designation for Scotland)

Dependency status

territorial collectivity (or a sui generis collectivity) of France since 1998

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Territorial Congress); an overseas collectivity of France


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

3 provinces; Province Iles (Islands Province), Province Nord (North Province), and Province Sud (South Province)


none (overseas territory of France); note - a referendum on independence was held in 1998 but was rejected; a new referendum must be held before 2019

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) (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on French law; 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 independence issue


see France


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012); represented by High Commissioner Thierry LATASTE (since 20 June 2016)
head of government: President of the Government Philippe GERMAINE (since 1 April 2015); Vice President Jean-Louis D'ANGLEBERME (since 1 April 2015)
cabinet: Cabinet elected from and by the Territorial Congress
elections/appointments: French president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of New Caledonia elected by Territorial Congress for a 5-year term (no term limits); election last held on 10 June 2011 (next to be held in June 2016)
election results: Philippe GERMAINE (Caledonia Together) elected president by Territorial Congress; vote NA

Legislative branch

unicameral Territorial Congress or Congres du Territoire (54 seats; members indirectly selected proportionally by the partisan makeup of the 3 Provincial Assemblies or Assemblees Provinciales; members of the 3 Provincial Assemblies directly elected by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms)
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 28 September 2014 (next to be held not later than September 2017); 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
elections: last held on 11 May 2014 (next to be held on May 2019); note - the government that was elected on 11 May 2014 collapsed within 6 months leading to a new election on 31 December 2015 which re-elected the same government
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Caledonia Together 13, FLNKS 9, UMP 7, Union for Caledonia in France 6, Build Our Rainbow Nation 6, National Union for Independence 6, other 7

Political pressure groups and leaders


National symbol(s)

fleche faitiere (native rooftop adornment), kagu bird; national colors: blue, red, green, yellow, black

Judicial branch

highest resident court(s): Court of Appeal in Noumea or Cour d'Appel; organized into civil, commercial, social, and pre-trial investigation chambers; court bench normally includes the court president and 2 counsilors); Administrative Court (number of judges NA); note - final appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are referred to the Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation in Paris; final appeals beyond the Administrative Court are referred to the Administrative Court of Appeal in Paris
judge selection and term of office: judge appointment and tenure based on France's judicial system
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 GERMAIN]
Caledonian Union or UC [Daniel GOA]
Future Together (l'Avenir Ensemble) [Harold MARTIN]
Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS (alliance includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM) [Roch WAMYTAN]
Labor Party (Parti Travailliste) or PT [Louis Kotra UREGEI]
National Union for Independence (Union Nationale pour l'Independance) or UNI
Party of Kanak Liberation (Parti de Liberation Kanak) or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE]
Socialist Kanak Liberation or LKS [Nidoish NAISSELINE]
The Republicans (formerly The Rally or UMP) [Pierre FROGIER]
Union for Caledonia in France; note - dissolved in July 2014

International organization participation

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

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of France)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (overseas territory of France)

Flag description

New Caledonia has two official flags; alongside the flag of France, the Kanak (indigenous Melanesian) flag has equal status; the latter consists of three equal horizontal bands of blue (top), red, and green; a large yellow disk - diameter two-thirds the height of the flag - shifted slightly to the hoist side is edged in black and displays a black fleche faitiere symbol, a native rooftop adornment

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; 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 tha

During 2009-10, France sent more development assistance to New Caledonia than to any of its other overseas territories. In October 2014, French Prime Minster Manuel VALLS confirmed financial support to New Caledonia totaling $500 million for the period 20

Substantial new investment in the nickel industry — including two major new plants - combined with the recovery of global nickel prices, has brightened the economic outlook for the next several years. In 2015, New Caledonia helped fill China’s shortfall i

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$11.1 billion (2014 est.)
$10.8 billion (2013 est.)
$10.57 billion (2012)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$11.1 billion (2014 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

2.8% (2014 est.)
2.2% (2013)
2.9% (2012)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$38,800 (2012 est.)
$36,500 (2010 est.)
$27,300 (2005)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 63.2%
government consumption: 24.1%
investment in fixed capital: 40.5%
investment in inventories: 0%
exports of goods and services: 20%
imports of goods and services: -47.8% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.5%
industry: 25.1%
services: 73.4% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

vegetables; beef, venison, other livestock products; fish


nickel mining and smelting

Industrial production growth rate

1.6% (2016 est.)

Labor force

106,400 (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 2.7%
industry: 22.4%
services: 74.9% (2010)

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 (-)

NA% of GDP

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1% (2016 est.)
0.6% (2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares



$1.565 billion (2014 est.)
$1.565 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

ferronickels, nickel ore, fish

Exports - partners

China 31.8%, Japan 15.2%, South Korea 10.7%, Australia 8.1%, France 7.4%, Belgium 5.1% (2015)


$3.323 billion (2014 est.)
$3.323 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners

France 35.1%, Australia 11.3%, South Korea 8.5%, Singapore 5.4%, Malaysia 5.3%, China 4.5%, NZ 4.1% (2015)

Debt - external

$112 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$79 million (31 December 1998 est.)

Exchange rates

Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar -
107.54 (2015 est.)
89.8 (2014 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 112,895
electrification - total population: 59%
electrification - urban areas: 68%
electrification - rural areas: 45% (2012)

Electricity - production

2.1 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

2 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

600,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

76.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

15.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

7.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

17,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

116.8 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

17,370 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

2.5 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 92,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 246,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 91 (July 2015 est.)

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 120 per 100 persons
international: country code - 687; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2015)

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 users

total: 201,000
percent of population: 74% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 2 (registered in France)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 10 (registered in France) (2015)


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)


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)

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