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