[Country map of New Caledonia]

New Caledonia

(overseas territory of France)


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

Map references: Oceania

total area: 19,060 sq km
land area: 18,760 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 2,254 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid

Terrain: coastal plains with interior mountains

Natural resources: nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 14%
forest and woodland: 51%
other: 35%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: typhoons most frequent from November to March
international agreements: NA


Population: 184,552 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 31% (female 27,712; male 28,677)
15-64 years: 64% (female 58,462; male 60,169)
65 years and over: 5% (female 4,997; male 4,535) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.75% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 22.04 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.9 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 14.4 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.02 years
male: 70.73 years
female: 77.48 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: New Caledonian(s)
adjective: New Caledonian

Ethnic divisions: Melanesian 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallisian 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3%

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

Languages: French, 28 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1976)
total population: 91%
male: 92%
female: 90%

Labor force: 50,469 foreign workers for plantations and mines from Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, and French Polynesia (1980 est.)
by occupation: NA


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

Digraph: NC

Type: overseas territory of France since 1956

Capital: Noumea

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

Independence: none (overseas territory of France; a referendum on independence will be held in 1998)

National holiday: National Day, Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: the 1988 Matignon Accords grant substantial autonomy to the islands; formerly under French law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Francois MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981)
head of government: High Commissioner and President of the Council of Government Didier CULTIAUX (since NA July 1994; appointed by the French Ministry of the Interior); President of the Territorial Congress Simon LOUECKHOTE (since 26 June 1989)
cabinet: Consultative Committee

Legislative branch: unicameral
Territorial Assembly: elections last held 11 June 1989 (next to be held July 1995); results - RPCR 44.5%, FLNKS 28.5%, FN 7%, CD 5%, UO 4%, other 11%; seats - (54 total) RPCR 27, FLNKS 19, FN 3, other 5; note - election boycotted by FULK
French Senate: elections last held 27 September 1992 (next to be held September 2001); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (1 total) RPCR 1
French National Assembly: elections last held 21 March 1993 (next to be held 21 and 28 March 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (2 total) RPCR 2

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: white-dominated Rassemblement pour la Caledonie dans la Republique (RPCR), conservative, Jacques LAFLEUR, president - affiliated to France's Rassemblement pour la Republique (RPR; also called South Province Party); Melanesian proindependence Kanaka Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), Paul NEAOUTYINE; Melanesian moderate Kanak Socialist Liberation (LKS), Nidoish NAISSELINE; National Front (FN), extreme right, Guy GEORGE; Caledonie Demain (CD), right-wing, Bernard MARANT; Union Oceanienne (UO), conservative, Michel HEMA; Front Uni de Liberation Kanak (FULK), proindependence, Clarence UREGEI; Union Caledonian (UC), Francois BURCK, president; "1999" (new party calling for an autonomous state), Philippe PENTECOST

Member of: ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WFTU, WMO

Diplomatic representation in US: none (overseas territory of France)

US diplomatic representation: none (overseas territory of France)

Flag: the flag of France is used


Overview: New Caledonia has more than 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 negligible amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 25% of imports.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $1 billion (1991 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2.4% (1988)

National product per capita: $6,000 (1991 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.4% (1990)

Unemployment rate: 16% (1989)

revenues: $224 million
expenditures: $211 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1985 est.)

Exports: $671 million (f.o.b., 1989)
commodities: nickel metal 87%, nickel ore
partners: France 32%, Japan 23.5%, US 3.6%

Imports: $764 million (c.i.f., 1989)
commodities: foods, fuels, minerals, machines, electrical equipment
partners: France 44.0%, US 10%, Australia 9%

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: 250,000 kW
production: 1.2 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 6,178 kWh (1993)

Industries: nickel mining and smelting

Agriculture: large areas devoted to cattle grazing; coffee, corn, wheat, vegetables; 60% self-sufficient in beef

Illicit drugs: illicit cannabis cultivation is becoming a principal source of income for some families

Economic aid:
recipient: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $4.185 billion

Currency: 1 CFP franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (CFPF) per US$1 - 96.25 (January 1995), 100.93 (1994), 102.96 (1993), 96.24 (1992), 102.57 (1991), 99.00 (1990); note - linked at the rate of 18.18 to the French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: 6,340 km
paved: 634 km
unpaved: 5,706 km (1987)

Ports: Mueo, Noumea, Thio

Merchant marine:
total: 1 roll-on/roll-off ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,079 GRT/724 DWT

total: 36
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 3
with paved runways under 914 m: 19
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 13


Telephone system: 32,578 telephones (1987)
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT (Pacific Ocean) satellite link

broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 3, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 7
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: French Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Gendarmerie); Police Force

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP

Note: defense is the responsibility of France