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.


Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 21 30 S, 165 30 E
Population: 260,166 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years:  24.9% (male 32,653/female 31,236)

15-64 years: 67.3% (male 86,865/female 85,578)

65 years and over: 7.8% (male 8,954/female 10,989) (2011 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

Dependency status: territorial collectivity of France since 1998
Telephones – main lines in use: 72,200 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular:  220,800 (2009)
Airports: 25 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 12

over 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 10

under 914 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; French Armed Forces (includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Gendarmerie); Police Force (2009)
Manpower available for military service: Males age 16-49: 68,219 (2010 est.)


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.

Transnational Issues:

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