New Caledonia facts on every entity in the world

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 156/257

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:

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


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


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

Population 184/238

271,615 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 23.19% (male 32,178/female 30,804)

15-24 years: 16.89% (male 23,435/female 22,448)

25-54 years: 42.99% (male 58,769/female 57,994)

55-64 years: 8.21% (male 10,874/female 11,417)

65 years and over: 8.72% (male 10,558/female 13,138) (2015 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: 31.4 years

male: 30.7 years

female: 32 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 86/233

1.38% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 130/224

15.33 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 176/225

5.52 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 32/222

4.01 migrant(s)/1,000 population

note: there has been steady emigration from Wallis and Futuna to New Caledonia (2015 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: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 173/224

total: 5.37 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 6.33 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 4.37 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 69/224

total population: 77.5 years

male: 73.49 years

female: 81.71 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 125/224

1.97 children born/woman (2015 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



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)

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

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) (2015)

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 Jean-Jacques BROT (since 2 February 2013)

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

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; number of judges NA); Administrative Court; number of judges NA);

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]

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

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation

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

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 symbol(s)

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

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 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. In October 2014, French Prime Minster Manuel VALLS confirmed financial support to New Caledonia totaling $500 million for the period 2016-20. Substantial new investment in the nickel industry — including two major new plants, combined with the recovery of global nickel prices, brightens the economic outlook for the next several years. In 2015 New Caledonia is likely to help fill China’s shortfall in nickel supplies left by an Indonesian ban on nickel ore exports. The new government, which inherited a $112 million deficit in 2013, is expected to focus on bringing the territory’s budget back into balance.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 155/230

$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 109/225

2.8% (2014 est.)

2.2% (2013)

2.9% (2012)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 41/230

$38,800 (2012 est.)

$36,500 (2010 est.)

$27,300 (2005)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 62.8%

government consumption: 25%

investment in fixed capital: 43.1%

investment in inventories: 0%

exports of goods and services: 21.9%

imports of goods and services: -52.8%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1.4%

industry: 26.4%

services: 72.2% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

vegetables; beef, venison, other livestock products; fish


nickel mining and smelting

Industrial production growth rate 33/202

5% (2015 est.)

Labor force 183/233

106,400 (2010 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 2.7%

industry: 22.4%

services: 74.9% (2010)

Unemployment rate 158/207

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) 60/226

0.7% (2015 est.)

0.2% (2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

Exports 149/224

$1.565 billion (2014 est.)

$1.565 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

ferronickels, nickel ore, fish

Exports - partners

France 18.4%, Japan 15.7%, Republic of Korea 12.1% (2014)

Imports 139/223

$3.323 billion (2014 est.)

$3.323 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs

Imports - partners

France 22.2%, Singapore 18.6%, Australia 10.9% (2014)

Debt - external 193/206

$112 million (31 December 2013 est.)

$79 million (31 December 1998 est.)

Exchange rates

Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar -

89.8 (2015 est.)

89.8 (2014 est.)

85.74 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 133/220

2.92 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 138/219

2.716 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 174/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 180/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 140/214

499,200 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 97/214

76.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 150/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 101/214

15.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 48/212

7.7% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 173/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 167/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 104/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 173/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 115/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 144/212

14,500 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 120/214

116.9 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 128/213

14,670 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 108/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 176/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 152/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 106/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 175/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 139/212

3.071 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 146/219

total subscriptions: 88,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 179/217

total: 243,100

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 91 (2014 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 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)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

6 (plus 25 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 104/232

34,231 (2012)

Internet users 159/217

total: 169,100

percent of population: 63.1% (2014 est.)


Airports 128/236

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 152/223

total: 5,622 km (2006)

Merchant marine 137/156

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

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Noumea

Military and Security

Military branches

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

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

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