New Caledonia
(overseas territory of France)
[Country Flag of New Caledonia]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of New Caledonia]

New Caledonia


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

Geographic coordinates: 21 30 S, 165 30 E

Map references: Oceania

total: 19,060 sq km
land: 18,575 sq km
water: 485 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 2,254 km

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

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

Terrain: 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%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 12%
forests and woodland: 39%
other: 49% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: typhoons most frequent from November to March

Environment—current issues: NA

Environment—international agreements:
party to: NA
signed, but not ratified: NA


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Population: 194,197 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% (male 29,423; female 28,320)
15-64 years: 65% (male 63,444; female 62,055)
65 years and over: 5% (male 5,202; female 5,753) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.64% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 21.08 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 4.84 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 12.71 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.01 years
male: 71.75 years
female: 78.44 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.46 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: New Caledonian(s)
adjective: New Caledonian

Ethnic groups: 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

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


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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

Data code: NC

Dependency status: overseas territory of France since 1956

Government type: NA

National 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 of France Jacques CHIRAC (since 17 May 1995), represented by High Commissioner and President of the Council of Government Dominque BUR (since NA August 1995)
head of government: President of the Territorial Congress Pierre FROGIER (since 31 July 1995)
cabinet: Consultative Committee
elections: high commissioner appointed by the president of France on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the Territorial Congress elected by the members of the congress

Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Congress or Congres Territorial (54 seats; members are members of the three Provincial Assemblies or Assemblees Provinciales elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: last held 9 July 1995 (next to be held NA July 2001)
election results: percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RPR 22, FLNKS 12, UNCT 9, UNI 5, DEPCA 2, FN 2, RCF 2, and other 2
note: New Caledonia elects 1 seat to the French Senate; elections last held 27 September 1992 (next to be held NA September 2001); results—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—RPR 1; New Caledonia also elects 2 seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held 25 May-1 June 1997 (next to be held NA 2002); results—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party - RPR 2

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel

Political parties and leaders: Progressive Melansian Union or UPM [Edmond NEKIRIAI]; Melanesian proindependence Kanaka Socialist National Liberation Front or FLNKS [Rock WAMYTAN]; Melanesian moderate Kanak Socialist Liberation or LKS [Nidoish NAISSELINE]; National Front or FN (extreme right) [Guy GEORGE]; Socialist Party of Kanaky or PSK [Jacques VIOLETTE]; Union Oceanienne or UO (conservative) [Michel HEMA]; Front de Developpement des Iles Loyautes or FDIL [Cono HAMU]; Union Caledonian or UC [Bernard LEPEU, president]; A New Caledonia for All or UNCT [Didier LEROUX]; Kanaque Liberation Party or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE and Elie POIGOUNE]; New Caledonia National Party [Georges CHATENEY]; Oceanic Democratic Rally or RDO [Alois SAKO]; Kanaque Federal Party of OPAO [Gabrielle PAITA and Auguste SIAPO]; Caledonian Generation [Jean-Raymond POSTIC]; Union des Synicates de Travailleurs Kanaks Exploites or USTKE [Louis Kotra UREGEY]; Federation for a New Caledonian Society or FNSC [Jean-Pierre AIFA]; Union to Construct Independence [Frances POADOUY]; Movement for France or MPF [Claude SARAAN]; Rally for Caledonia in the Republic or RPCR is a coalition of 5 parties: Union for the Rebirth of Caledonia [Jean-Louis MIR]; Christian Social Democrats—All Ethnic Group Accord [Raymond MURA]; Rally for Caledonia [Jacques LAFLEUR]; Rally of the Republic [Dick UKEIWE]; Liberal Caledonian Movement [Jean LEQUES]; Union Nationale pour l'Indepedance or UNI; Developper Ensemble pour construire l'Avenir or DEPCA; Rassemblement pour une Caledonie dans la France or RCF

International organization participation: ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC, WFTU, WMO

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

Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of France)

Flag description: three horizontal bands, blue (top), red, and green, with a yellow disk enclosing a black symbol centered to the hoist side; the flag of France is used for official occasions


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Economy—overview: New Caledonia has more than 20% 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. In addition to nickel, financial support from France and tourism are key to the health of the economy. The outlook for 1998 is clouded by the spillover of financial problems in East Asia and by lower expected prices for nickel.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$1.5 billion (1995 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: NA%

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$8,000 (1995 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 5%
industry: 35%
services: 60% (1992 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 1.7% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 70,044 (1988)
by occupation: agriculture 32%, industry 20%, services 40%, mining 8% (1992)

Unemployment rate: 15% (1994)

revenues: $755.6 million
expenditures: $755.6 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1995 est.)

Industries: nickel mining and smelting

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 253,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 1.145 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 6,204 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: vegetables; beef, other livestock products

total value: $500 million (f.o.b., 1996)
commodities: ferronickels, nickel ore
partners: Japan 31%, France 29%, US 12%, Australia 7%, Taiwan 6% (1996 est.)

total value: $930 million (c.i.f., 1996)
commodities: foods, transport equipment, machinery and electrical equipment, fuels, minerals
partners: France 45%, Australia 18%, Singapore 7%, New Zealand 6%, Japan 4% (1996 est.)

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA
note: important support from France

Currency: 1 CFP franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (CFPF) per US$1—110.60 (January 1998), 106.11 (1997), 93.00 (1996), 90.75 (1995), 100.93 (1994), 102.96 (1993); note—linked at the rate of 18.18 to the French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 38,748 (1993 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 3, shortwave 0

Radios: 97,000 (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 7

Televisions: 47,000 (1992 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 5,562 km
paved: 975 km
unpaved: 4,587 km (1993)

Ports and harbors: Mueo, Noumea, Thio

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 30 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 5
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 25
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 12 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 7 (1997 est.)


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

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Military—note: defense is the responsibility of France

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: Matthew and Hunter Islands claimed by France and Vanuatu