OFFICIAL NAME: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies
CAPITAL: Noumea
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Overseas Territory of France
AREA: 19,000 Sq Km (7,334 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 206,900


Direct Link to Political MapDirect Link to Physical MapLOCATION AND GEOGRAPHY: New Caledonia comprises a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. To the east are the Loyalty Islands, to the southwest the Isle of Pines and to the northwest the Belep Islands while the other islands are small and uninhabited. The island of New Caledonia is divided north to south by a central mountain chain that has formed deep narrow valleys and the coastal plains. The island has extensive forests and Mt. Panie is the county's highest point. There are many streams on New Caledonia, although most are fast flowing. New Caledonia and most of the other islands are ringed by coral reefs. Major Cities; Noumea 65,100, Mont-Dore 16,400, Dumbea 10,100, Paita 6,000 (1989). Land Use; forested 39%, pastures 15%, agricultural-cultivated 1%, other 45% (1988).


CLIMATE: New Caledonia has a tropical climate that is modified by the SE trade winds. The wet season is from December to March when cyclones also occur and the average annual precipitation is 1,083 mm (43 inches). Average temperature ranges in Noumea are from 25 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit) in July.


PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the indigenous Melanesian Kanaks who account for 43% of the population while 34% are of European descent, mostly French, 9% are Wallisian and 3% are Indonesian.


DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 9 persons per sq km (24 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 59.4% urban, 40.6% rural (1989). Sex Distribution; 51.1% male, 48.9% female (1989). Life Expectancy at Birth; 64.9 years male, 71.4 years female (1986). Age Breakdown; 33% under 15, 28% 15 to 29, 20% 30 to 44, 12% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 2% 75 and over (1989). Birth Rate; 23.9 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 6.0 per 1,000 (1989). Increase Rate; 17.9 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 11.2 per 1,000 live births (1989).


RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with 63% of the population Roman Catholic while 33% are Protestant. There is also a minority of Sunni Muslims which account for 4% of the population.


LANGUAGES: The official language is French, although some Melanesian-Polynesian dialects are also spoken.


EDUCATION: Aged 6 or over and having attained: no formal schooling 5.2%, primary 52.5%, secondary 37.8%, higher 4.5% (1989). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 33,238 or 57.9% (1989).


MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1990: In 1946 the islands became an Overseas Territory of France. In the 1980's many Melanesians demanded independence for New Caledonia while most other New Caledonians favored continued French control. In a referendum held in 1987 New Caledonians voted to continue French control. In April and May 1988 armed clashes broke out between the Kanaks and security forces. In June 1988 the French President, Jacques Lafleur of the RPCR and the FLNKS leader, signed the Matignon Accord which divided the territory into three administrative divisions, two of which would be under Kanak rule and for a referendum in June 1998 to determine the territory's future.


CURRENCY: The official currency is the CFP Franc (Comptoire Francaise du Pacifique-CFPF) divided into 100 Centimes.


ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $1,606,000,000 (1987). Public Debt; USD $302,000,000 (1988). Imports; CFPF 86,929,000,000 (1990). Exports; CFPF 43,931,000,000 (1990). Tourism Receipts; USD $112,000,000 (1989). Balance of Trade; CFPF -33,760,000,000 (1990). Economically Active Population; 65,945 or 40.2% of total population (1989). Unemployed; 7.9% (1989).


MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are France and Japan.

MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Chrome Ore, Coffee, Copra, Fish, Fruit, Iron Ore, Livestock, Nickel Ore, Rice, Timber.

MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Cement, Chlorine and Oxygen Plants, Food Processing, Mining, Soft Drinks, Tourism.

MAIN EXPORTS: Coffee, Copra, Ferronickel and Nickel Materials, Nickel Ore.


TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 6,497 km (4,037 mi) (1987). Vehicles; cars 50,000 (1989), trucks and buses 18,000 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 18 (1990), deadweight tonnage N/A. Air Transport; passenger-km 112,000,000 (69,594,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km 485,000 (332,200 short ton-mi) (1988).


COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 1 with a circulation of 19,000 (1988). Radio; receivers 90,000 (1990). Television; receivers 35,500 (1990). Telephones; units 21,915 (1987).


MILITARY: 3,800 (1990) total active French duty personnel.


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