New Caledonia

New Caledonia
/kal'i doh"nee euh, -dohn"yeuh/
1. an island in the S Pacific, ab. 800 mi. (1290 km) E of Australia. 113,680; 6224 sq. mi. (16,120 sq. km).
2. an overseas territory of France comprising this island and other smaller islands: formerly a penal colony. 131,665; 7200 sq. mi. (18,650 sq. km). Cap.: Nouméa.

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New Caledonia

Introduction New Caledonia
Background: 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 seems to have dissipated. Geography New Caledonia -
Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 21 30 S, 165 30 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 19,060 sq km water: 485 sq km land: 18,575 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: 0.38% permanent crops: 0.33% other: 99.29% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 160 sq km (1991)
Natural hazards: cyclones, most frequent from November to March Environment - current issues: erosion caused by mining exploitation and forest fires
Geography - note: consists of the main island of New Caledonia (one of the largest in the Pacific Ocean), the archipelago of Iles Loyaute, and numerous small, sparsely populated islands and atolls People New Caledonia
Population: 207,858 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30% (male 31,862; female 30,577) 15-64 years: 64.1% (male 67,043; female 66,102) 65 years and over: 5.9% (male 5,777; female 6,497) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.43% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 19.91 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 5.62 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/ female total population: 1.02 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 8.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.27 years female: 76.36 years (2002 est.) male: 70.32 years
Total fertility rate: 2.44 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: 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 (official), 33 Melanesian- Polynesian dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 91% male: 92% female: 90% (1976 est.) Government New Caledonia
Country name: conventional long form: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies conventional short form: New Caledonia local short form: Nouvelle-Caledonie local long form: Territoire des Nouvelle-Caledonie et Dependances
Dependency status: overseas territory of France since 1956
Government type: NA
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); note - a referendum on independence was held in 1998 but did not pass; a new referendum is scheduled for 2014
National holiday: Bastille Day, 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 Thierry LATASTE (since 19 July 1999) elections: French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the government elected by the members of the Territorial Congress head of government: President of the Government Pierre FROGIER (since 5 April 2001) cabinet: Consultative Committee
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 five-year terms) elections: last held 9 May 1999 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RPCR 24, FLNKS 12, UNI 6, FCCI 4, FN 4, Alliance pour la Caledonie 3, LKS 1 note: New Caledonia elects 1 seat to the French Senate; elections last held 24 September 2001 (next to be held NA September 2007); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA; New Caledonia also elects 2 seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held 25 May-1 June 1997 (next to be held: first round - 9 June 2002; second round 16 June 2002); results - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - RPR 2
Judicial branch: Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; County Courts; Joint Commerce Tribunal Court; Children's Court Political parties and leaders: Alliance pour la Caledonie or APLC [Didier LE ROUX]; Federation des Comites de Coordination des Independantistes or FCCI [Raphael MAPOU]; Front National or FN [Guy GEORGE]; Front Uni de Liberation Kanak or FULK [Ernest UNE]; Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS [Rock WAMYTAN] (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM); Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE and Elie POIGOUNE]; Rally for Caledonia in the Republic or RPCR [Jacques LAFLEUR]; Union Nationale pour l'Independance or UNI [Paul NEAOUTYINE]; note - may no longer exist, but Paul NEAOUTYINE has since become a president of Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA; Union Progressiste Melanesienne or UPM [Victor TUTUGORO] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ESCAP (associate), FZ, ICFTU, SPC,
participation: WFTU, WMO Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of France) Diplomatic representation from the none (overseas territory of France)
Flag description: the flag of France is used Economy New Caledonia -
Economy - overview: New Caledonia has about 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 small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, the substantial financial support from France and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. The situation in 1998 was clouded by the spillover of financial problems in East Asia and by lower prices for nickel. Nickel prices jumped in 1999-2000, and large additions were made to capacity. Strikes in the building industry in 2001, which lasted four months, adversely affected many other sectors of the economy. French Government interests in the New Caledonian nickel industry are being transferred to local ownership.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $3.1 billion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.1% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $15,000 (2000 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5% industry: 30% services: 65% (1997 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.3% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 79,395 (including 15,018 unemployed, 1996) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 7%, industry 23%, services 70% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 19% (1996)
Budget: revenues: $861.3 million expenditures: $735.3 million, including capital expenditures of $52 million (1996 est.)
Industries: nickel mining and smelting Industrial production growth rate: -0.6% (1996) Electricity - production: 1.565 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 77.64% hydro: 22.36% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 1.455 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products
Exports: $400 million (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: ferronickels, nickel ore, fish
Exports - partners: Japan 25.8%, France 18.8%, Taiwan 12%, Australia 8.2%, US 3.0% (1999)
Imports: $1 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Imports - commodities: transport equipment, machinery and electrical equipment, fuels, minerals, wine, sugar, rice
Imports - partners: France 50.2%, Australia 15.1%, Singapore 5.9%, New Zealand 5.2%, Japan 3.7% (1999)
Debt - external: $79 million (1998 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $880 million annual subsidy from France
Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
Currency code: XPF
Exchange rates: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar - 135.04 (January 2002), 133.26 (2001), 129.44 (2000), 111.93 (1999), 107.25 (1998), 106.11 (1997); note - linked at the rate of 119.25 XPF to the euro
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications New Caledonia Telephones - main lines in use: 47,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 13,040 (1998)
Telephone system: general assessment: NA domestic: NA international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 107,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 6 (plus 25 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 52,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .nc Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 24,000 (2001) Transportation New Caledonia
Railways: 0 km (2002)
Highways: total: 4,825 km paved: 2,287 km unpaved: 2,538 km (1999)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Mueo, Noumea, Thio
Merchant marine: total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,261 GRT/1,600 DWT ships by type: cargo 1 note: includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: Malaysia 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 29 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 6 over 3,047 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 4 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 23 914 to 1,523 m: 12 under 914 m: 11 (2001)
Heliports: 6 (2001) Military New Caledonia
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; French Armed Forces (including Army, Navy, Air Force, Gendarmerie); Police Force Military expenditures - dollar $192.3 million (FY96)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 5.3% (FY96)
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of France Transnational Issues New Caledonia Disputes - international: Matthew and Hunter Islands east of New Caledonia claimed by France and Vanuatu

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French Nouvelle Calédonie

French overseas territory (pop., 2001 est.: 216,000), South Pacific Ocean.

It consists of the islands of New Caledonia and Walpole, the Isle of Pines, and several other island groups; its capital is Nouméa. The main island, New Caledonia, has rich deposits of nickel that are among the largest in the world. Excavations indicate an Austronesian presence in the area с 2000–1000 BC. The islands were visited by Capt. James Cook in 1774 and by various navigators and traders in the 18th–19th centuries. They were occupied by France in 1853 and were a penal colony from 1864 to 1894. New Caledonians joined the Free French cause of Charles de Gaulle in 1940; the islands were the site of Allied bases (1942–44). They became part of the French overseas territory in 1946. In 1987 residents voted by referendum to remain part of France.

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▪ French overseas country, Pacific Ocean
French  Nouvelle-Calédonie  
 French overseas country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, about 900 miles (1,500 km) east of Australia. It includes the island of New Caledonia (the Grande Terre [Mainland]), where the capital, Nouméa, is located; the Loyalty Islands; the Bélep Islands; and the Île des Pins (Pins, Île des). These islands form more than 99 percent of the total land area and lie between latitudes 18° and 23° S and longitudes 163° and 169° E. New Caledonia also includes a number of far-flung uninhabited islets: Huon (Huon Islands) and Surprise islands in the D'Entrecasteaux Reefs, the atolls of the Chesterfield Islands and the Bellona Reefs, Walpole Island, Beautemps-Beaupré Atoll, and Astrolabe Reefs. France also claims Hunter (Hunter Island) and Matthew (Matthew Island) islands, but the claim is disputed by Vanuatu.

      The main island is by far the largest of the group and contains about nine-tenths of the population. It is surrounded by a coral reef that extends from Huon Island in the north to the Île des Pins in the south. Except for the central part of the west coast, which is bordered only by a fringing reef, it is a true barrier reef enclosing a large lagoon. There are numerous passages in the reef, usually at the mouths of rivers. New Caledonia's lagoons, with their diverse reefs and associated ecosystems, were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

Relief and drainage
 The cigar-shaped main island is some 30 miles (50 km) wide and 310 miles (500 km) long. Rugged mountain ranges, consisting principally of metamorphic rock formations, divide the island into an east coast, which in many places descends precipitously to the sea, and a west coast, which slopes more gradually and contains basically flat but undulating land. Ultrabasic serpentine rock forms a continuous plateau over most of the southern third of the island, rising to 5,308 feet (1,617 metres) at Mount Humboldt, and continues along the west coast as a series of discrete mountain masses. Outcrops from this formation form the islands of Art and Pott in the Bélep archipelago in the north and, in the south, the central part of the Île des Pins, which is bordered by an emerged coral platform. These rocks have weathered to form the striking terre rouge (i.e., red soils that overlie the island's extensive deposits of nickel, chrome, and cobalt ore). In the northeast of the main island, an outcrop of gneiss forms a mountain range 40 miles (60 km) long that includes New Caledonia's highest point, Mount Panié, elevation 5,341 feet (1,628 metres). Elsewhere the northern half of the island consists mainly of an irregular series of ranges formed from schists. Sedimentary rocks are limited to a narrow zone extending along much of the west coast inland between the serpentine ranges and the northern schist formations. They have weathered to produce broad undulating plains with some steep-sided hills.

      Numerous streams descend from the central mountain chain to the lagoon; the streams often flood rapidly after rainfall and dry out in dry weather, especially on the west coast. The Diahot River, the longest river in the country, flows for about 60 miles (100 km) toward the northern tip of the island along the western escarpment of the Mount Panié range.

      The Loyalty Islands consist of three main islands—Ouvéa, Lifou, and Maré (Maré Island)—and numerous small islands, the most important being Tiga. The Loyalty Islands account for more than one-tenth of New Caledonia's total land area and about one-tenth of the population. In contrast to the island of New Caledonia, these islands are raised coral plateaus, nowhere rising much higher than 430 feet (130 metres) or so. Surface water is lacking because of the porous nature of the calcareous rock formation.

      The climate is subtropical with year-round precipitation. Rainstorms are especially common on the east coast, where at higher elevations more than 120 inches (3,000 mm) of rain may fall annually. On the west coast the precipitation is regularly less than 40 inches (1,000 mm). The period from December to March is particularly rainy because of equatorial depressions, including frequent tropical cyclones (tropical cyclone) (typhoons). Another period of heavy rainfall occurs in July and August; the driest months are September through November. Winds bearing northeast to southeast, including trade winds, predominate throughout the year and relieve temperatures in the hot season, which begins in November. Cyclonic winds are frequent late in the hot season.

      The mean annual temperature at sea level ranges 71–75 °F (22–24 °C). In the southern part of the main island there are few days when the temperature rises above 86 °F (30 °C). The lowest temperature reached in Nouméa is about 55 °F (13 °C), but, farther north on the west coast, temperatures as low as 41 °F (5 °C) have been known to occur.

Plant and animal life
 Physical isolation, contrasting soils, and a wide range in elevations have produced a rich indigenous flora. Terre rouge soils support a number of sclerophyllic (drought-resistant) shrubs with spectacularly coloured flowers. Different forms of rainforest range from those growing on coral platforms, as in the Loyalty Islands, to montane forests above 3,000 feet (900 metres) on the main island. The savanna woodlands of the west coast are characterized by stands of niaouli, or cajeput trees (Melaleuca quinquenervia), which are highly fire-resistant and tend to dominate landscapes that have been cleared by bushfires. Although the niaouli grows best in wet soils up to an elevation of 2,000 feet (610 metres), it also extends onto well-drained slopes and crests and forms the main species in the closed swamp forests of the Diahot valley. Dry sclerophyll forests, dominated by the guaiacum (Acacia spirorbis), were once widespread at low elevations on the west coast. Mangrove swamps proliferate on the highly indented west coast. One woodland species, Amborella trichopoda, has become of great scientific interest as a possible link between gymnosperms and angiosperms (coniferous and flowering plants).

      Except for several types of bat, which were present before the arrival of Europeans, mammals are absent from the native fauna. There are no frogs and no venomous land reptiles, although scorpions and centipedes are present. There are no endemic malaria-carrying mosquito species. The kagu, a flightless bird, is the most unusual of some 100 endemic bird species and is now rare. A wide range of marine life is present in the lagoon.

People (New Caledonia)
 Melanesians (Melanesian culture) make up more than two-fifths of the population and Europeans about one-third. Their differing cultures have given rise to two distinct ways of life, known as kanak and caldoche; people of mixed descent tend to adhere to one or the other. The kanak identity is based on clan membership, a network of family alliances and specific land rights. The caldoche way of life is essentially integrated into a cash economy. The Polynesian minority comprises Wallis and Futuna islanders, who make up about one-tenth of the total, and smaller numbers of Tahitians. Descendants of Indonesian and Vietnamese migrant workers also form small proportions of the population and reside primarily in urban areas.

      There is no official language, but French and Kanak have special legal recognition. Some 30 Melanesian languages are spoken, most Melanesians being proficient in more than one.

      The Roman Catholic Church claims half of the population as adherents, including almost all of the Europeans, Uveans, and Vietnamese and half of the Melanesian and Tahitian minorities. Of the Protestant churches, the Free Evangelical Church (Église Libre) and the Evangelical Church in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands (Église Evangélique en Nouvelle-Calédonie et Îles Loyauté) have the largest number of adherents; their memberships are almost entirely Melanesian. There are also numerous other Christian groups and small numbers of Muslims.

      For the first four decades of the 20th century, the Melanesian population was fairly stable, but by the mid-1980s it had doubled. Migration into and out of the country has been an important factor in the size of the non-Melanesian communities. The birth rate is higher among Melanesians and Uveans than among other groups, but infant mortality is also higher among Melanesians.

      About three-fifths of the people live in the metropolitan area of Nouméa, which since 1965 has expanded to embrace the adjacent municipalities of Dumbéa, Mont-Dore, and Païta. Nouméa has numerous bars and restaurants, shops and supermarkets, a hospital, schools, a newspaper, and radio and television broadcasting facilities. About four-fifths of people of migrant origin, including Europeans, Polynesians, and Asians, live there as compared with one-fourth of the Melanesian population. About three-fourths of the Melanesians live outside Nouméa in small, widely dispersed villages with few modern facilities. They engage chiefly in subsistence agriculture based on the cultivation of yams, taros, sweet potatoes, and bananas. The population is almost entirely Melanesian in the Loyalty Islands, the Île des Pins, and the Bélep Islands and on the east coast and in the mountain ranges of the main island.

 New Caledonia's economy depends heavily on services, the mining of nickel, and subsidies from France. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are also important. Import-substitution industries, such as the manufacture of soft drinks and beer, soap, cement, fencing wire, and fishing and pleasure boats, have had little impact on the economy because of the small local market.

      Although the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is one of the highest in the South Pacific, the distribution of wealth between ethnic groups is unequal: Melanesian households earn on average only about one-fourth the income of European households. The distribution of land resources on the main island is also uneven. Although thousands of Melanesian families depend on agriculture, two-thirds of the land is in the hands of European families, only a few of whom are engaged in agriculture or cattle raising.

      Europeans also dominate trades, businesses, and professions and hold most of the high-ranking administrative posts in the government. Official unemployment tends to be significantly higher among Melanesians than it is among Europeans, even without counting the considerable number of “hidden” unemployed who have returned to their villages.

      Taxes in New Caledonia consist primarily of duties on imported goods, sales taxes, and taxes on business revenues. The vast majority of total tax receipts comes from the Nouméa metropolitan area.

Agriculture, fishing, and forestry
      Local agricultural products meet only part of New Caledonia's needs for meat, vegetables, and fruit. Yams are a staple crop. Commercial agriculture has not generally succeeded despite efforts to establish sugarcane, cotton, rice, coffee, and coconut-palm plantations. The production of coffee and copra (from coconuts) that began in the 19th century continued after World War II, chiefly because Melanesian subsistence farmers wished to diversify their crops and enter the cash economy; however, exports of those commodities are now negligible. A few reforestation projects, consisting mainly of plantings of Caribbean pine, have been established on Melanesian land on the Île des Pins and on mountains on the west coast of the main island. Cattle raising is important to the economy; pigs and horses are also raised but rarely for commercial purposes.

Resources and power
      The weathering of serpentine rock provides New Caledonia with a large share of the world's known reserves of nickel (nickel processing) ore, as well as large deposits of chromium, cobalt, iron, and magnesium. The export of nickel ore, which has been mined since 1875, and of partly refined nickel from a large foundry on the outskirts of Nouméa, is subject to boom-and-bust cycles determined by the needs of the world steel industry and competition from other producers. Cobalt and iron ore deposits, as well as deposits of gypsum on the west coast and of phosphates on outlying islands, are no longer worked. Noncommercial deposits of coal are found on the west coast. The search for oil has not been successful. Hydroelectric power from Yaté and Néaoua provides nearly half of New Caledonia's energy needs; the remainder is produced from thermal generators burning imported fuel oil. More than three-fourths of the energy produced is used in nickel refining.

Services and trade
      Exports, which consist largely of partly refined nickel and nickel ore, vary with the world market price of nickel. However, New Caledonia has a chronic balance-of-trade deficit. The European Union (EU) is the major trading partner, and much of the EU's trading activity with New Caledonia is with France. Other important trading partners include Japan, Singapore, Australia, South Korea, and Taiwan. France makes large grants to the country's budget, notably for health, education, and the maintenance of military and security forces. Governmental business services, trade, and finance make up a large proportion of the GDP and provide about two-thirds of employment. Efforts to diversify the economy beyond the commercial and administrative sectors have met with little success. There is, however, considerable potential for tourism, particularly from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

      The main island of New Caledonia and the inhabited outer islands are ringed by roads. Virtually the entire coast of the island of New Caledonia may be traveled by road, and crossroads penetrate to the centre of the island. The port of Nouméa handles the majority of ship traffic. Regular service is available for cargo and passengers. The domestic airline, Air Calédonie, provides internal air service from Magenta Airport near Nouméa to the main and outer islands; Aircalin, an international partnership between Air Calédonie and several other national airlines, provides service to other countries in the South Pacific and to Japan.

Government and society
      Under the Nouméa Accord of 1998, New Caledonia has limited autonomy within the French legal system. It sends three representatives to the French parliament: two to the National Assembly and one to the Senate. Authority over defense, internal security, and various other matters is retained by the French government and is administered by its appointed representative, the high commissioner.

      Health and educational facilities are of higher quality in Nouméa than elsewhere in New Caledonia. The more-isolated islanders have access to few schools and health centres. School is free and compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16, and the school system generally follows the syllabus of schools in France. Although elementary school attendance is nearly universal and secondary enrollment is high, relatively few non-Europeans gain higher qualifications. French is the only language of instruction in state-supported schools. The University of New Caledonia, founded in 1999, is located in Nouméa.

Cultural life
      European cultural influence is evident in Nouméa, with its bars, restaurants, and cinemas, the Bernheim Library (1905; a large collection endowed by an early mine owner, Lucien Bernheim), museums, and bookshops. For the Europeans, sports tend to be closely related to the sea and include boating, fishing, windsurfing, and swimming or sunbathing at the city beaches of Vata Cove and the Bay of Citrons; tennis and cycling are also popular. Although football (soccer) in France is closely followed, large numbers of Melanesian men play the sport locally. Melanesian women have widely adopted a version of cricket, which was first introduced by early British missionaries in the Loyalty Islands. Melanesian football and cricket teams compete annually in countrywide competitions.

      In many areas Melanesian custom remains strong, particularly in relation to clan and family ties and obligations. Almost without exception Melanesians, regardless of their education or urbanization, return to their villages to take part in elaborate ceremonies and gift exchanges on such occasions as births, marriages, and deaths. Traditions have been modified to include Christian ceremonies. In rural areas the traditional division of labour is retained. Women tend to carry out the daily agricultural round of planting, weeding, and harvesting, as well as the domestic tasks of cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. Men perform the heavier tasks of clearing the ground for new gardens. All take part in the annual yam planting and harvesting, which is still something of a ceremonial and social occasion and also sometimes draws urban workers back to their villages for a short period.

      The use of local languages remains strong, although French has become the lingua franca through its prevalence in the educational system. With an increase in nationalist sentiment beginning in the late 20th century came a revival of interest among Melanesians in the traditional arts of sculpture, mat and basket weaving, singing, dancing, and wood carving.

      State-owned radio and television stations relay programs to all parts of the country. In Nouméa there are also several privately owned radio stations. Satellite antennas have become increasingly common, bringing television programs and Internet access to even the remotest regions. There is one daily newspaper, Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes.

History (New Caledonia)
      Melanesians settled the islands about 3000 BC and, except for rare Polynesian voyagers, probably were cut off from outside contact until the late 18th century AD. In 1774 the British navigator and explorer James Cook (Cook, James) landed at Balade, on the east coast of the mainland, and he named the island New Caledonia for his native Scotland. Cook was followed there by the French navigator Antoine de Bruni, chevalier d'Entrecasteaux, in 1793. Regular contact with Europeans began in 1841 when sandalwood traders from Australia introduced islanders to the use of iron. The arrival of a Protestant mission from the London Missionary Society in the Loyalty Islands in 1841 and a Marist mission, which was set up at Balade with the aid of the French navy in 1843, marked the beginning of the Protestant and Roman Catholic presence in the territory.

       France took possession of most of present-day New Caledonia in 1853 in ceremonies at Balade and the Île des Pins with the aim of reserving the territory as a possible site for a penal colony. The French flag was not run up in the Loyalty Islands until 1864.

      From the time of colonial (colonialism, Western) settlement until as late as 1917, Melanesian uprisings were common and were constantly feared by the settlers and authorities alike. The insurrection of 1856–59 near Nouméa and the uprising of 1878–79, which extended along the west coast from Bouloupari to Poya, seriously endangered French occupation. Grievances centred around the confiscation of Melanesian lands, the foraging of settlers' cattle on the Melanesians' produce gardens, and the head tax, which in 1899 was imposed by the colonial government on male Melanesians in order to oblige them to obtain employment with settlers and the government. The French suppressed each uprising (with the help of indigenous auxiliaries) by destroying villages and crops and demanding unconditional surrender, and insurgents were punished by deportation or execution and further confiscation of their lands.

      By 1860 French authority had been established over the southern third of the mainland, and in the next decade the French established policies for disposing of indigenous land, regrouping tribes, and appointing a system of tribal chiefs to represent the administration. By the end of the 19th century, large areas of Melanesian land had been alienated and the inhabitants relegated to reserves. Forced labour, limitations on travel, and curfews were imposed from the early days of colonial rule and became the basis of a system of administrative law codified in 1887 as the indigénat (native regulations). The indigénat, as well as the head tax, remained in force until 1946.

      Although the prime concern of the early colonial administration was the reception and control of about 22,000 French convicts sent to New Caledonia between 1864 and 1897, the French also attempted to attract free settlers and obtain a supply of cheap labour. In addition, between 1864 and 1939 some 60,000 indentured labourers were imported to construct public works and to work on plantations, ships, wharves, and mines and in commerce and domestic service. These included ni-Vanuatu (the indigenous population of Vanuatu) and Solomon Islanders (1865–1920), Vietnamese (1891–1939), Javanese (1896–1939), and Japanese (1892–1921). Only a small percentage of the survivors of these workers remained in the colony after their contracts expired, and, although few ex-convicts left the territory, not many established families. New Caledonia was also the unlikely home of some 4,000 déportés, political exiles of the 1871 uprising of the Paris Commune, but few of the survivors stayed after being granted amnesty. Most of the free white settlers were either former members of the French administration and armed forces, settlers from Australia and New Zealand, or former sugar planters from Réunion. The government encouraged two later waves of free settlers in the 1890s and 1920s to migrate to help establish coffee and cotton industries, respectively, but Europeans remained in the minority. After World War II the European population gradually increased by migration, but the main influx of white and Polynesian settlers occurred in the years leading up to and including the nickel boom of 1969–72. For the first time, the Melanesians became a minority in their own country, although they still were the largest single ethnic group.

      From the beginning of French settlement, political debate among the white settlers revolved around the rights of residents to administer their own affairs without endangering the flow of French financial aid. Between 1885 and 1956 a locally elected general council advised the governor on territorial affairs and voted a local budget. By 1953 French citizenship had been granted to all New Caledonians, regardless of ethnic origin. Melanesians then formed a coalition with Europeans to bring to power the Caledonian Union (Union Calédonienne) party on a ticket of full self-government in local affairs. Progress toward self-government was made in 1957 when a Territorial Assembly was created with powers to elect an executive under the presidency of a high commissioner. In the 1970s the Caledonian Union became an increasingly Melanesian party as Europeans deserted it, and it turned to supporting the cause of independence. In 1979 the Caledonian Union formed the Independence Front in coalition with several minority Melanesian parties. The French government granted complete self-government in territorial affairs under the Lemoine Statute of 1984, but the Independence Front rejected the statute and reconstituted itself as the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (Front de Libération Nationale Kanake et Socialiste; FLNKS). The FLNKS boycotted the elections in that year and, in an uprising, temporarily captured most of the territory outside Nouméa.

      The following decades were characterized by political struggles between the FLNKS and a settler-dominated party, the Rally for Caledonia in the Republic (Rassemblement pour la Calédonie dans la République; RPCR), which favoured continued ties with France. In 1988 the French government, the RPCR, and the FLNKS negotiated the Matignon Accords, which restructured political and advisory bodies and granted wide-reaching autonomy. The Nouméa Accord was formally signed in May 1998, approved by referendum in November, and passed by both houses of the French National Assembly in March 1999. Among its provisions were a change of status from overseas territory to overseas country and the holding of a referendum on independence in the early 21st century.

D.L. Shineberg Sophie Foster Ed.

Additional Reading
Jocelyn Harewood, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, 5th ed. (2006), is a good general guidebook. A special issue of Mwà Véé: revue culturelle kanak, “Living Heritage: Kanak Culture Today” (October 2000), was produced in conjunction with the Pacific Arts Festival held in Nouméa in 2000. Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer, Atlas de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et dépendances (1983), gives an account of New Caledonia's development, with detailed maps. Useful statistical sources include Comptes économiques (annual) and publications of the Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques, France. Sociological studies include J.M. Kohler, Colonie ou democratie (1987); J.M. Kohler and P. Pillon, Impact de l'opération café en milieu Mélanésien (1982); and K.R. Howe, The Loyalty Islands: A History of Culture Contacts, 1840–1900 (1977). Alain Saussol, L'Héritage: essai sur le problème foncier mélanésien en Nouvelle-Calédonie (1979); and Pierre Gascher, La Belle au bois dormant: regards sur l'administration coloniale en Nouvelle-Calédonie de 1874 à 1894 (1974), provide accounts of French settlement. The most comprehensive history is John Connell, New Caledonia or Kanaky?: The Political History of a French Colony (1987). Kim Munholland, Rock of Contention: Free French and Americans at War in New Caledonia, 1940–1945 (2006), is an authoritative history of the World War II years. Ed.

French  Nouvelle-Calédonie  

      largest island of the French overseas country of New Caledonia, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean 750 miles (1,200 km) east of Australia. Also known as Grande Terre (Mainland), it is approximately 250 miles (400 km) long and 25 miles (40 km) wide. From its coast, encircled by one of the world's longest barrier reefs (second only to Australia's Great Barrier Reef), the island rises to a double chain of central mountains, the highest peak of which is Mount Panié, with an elevation of 5,341 feet (1,628 metres). The climate is basically subtropical, with mean monthly temperatures ranging from about 63 °F (17 °C) to 90 °F (32 °C). Precipitation is highest from December to March; on the east coast, which is subject to the trade winds, it reaches about 120 inches (3,000 mm) annually, while the west coast receives less than 40 inches (1,000 mm). Forests grow along the east coast and in some valleys, and the west coast has savannas. The niaouli, or cajeput tree, and more than 10 species of the genus Araucaria (pinelike coniferous trees) are characteristic. Natural fauna is sparse, except for fishes and birds.

      The island is believed to have been settled by Melanesians from Southeast Asia by about 3000 BC. The first European to visit the island (1774) was Capt. James Cook (Cook, James), who gave it the Roman name for Scotland, Caledonia. Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, a Frenchman, visited the island in 1793. A French Roman Catholic mission was established in 1840, and the island was annexed by France in 1853. It served as a penal colony from 1864 to 1897, during which time the indigenous people attempted several revolts. When the French overseas territory was formed in 1946, the island became part of it.

      The capital, as well as the chief town and port, is Nouméa, on the southwest coast. The island has significant ore deposits (nickel, iron, chrome, cobalt, manganese) and exports coffee and copra. Industries include the processing of nickel ore, the leading export; meatpacking, supplied by the large herds of cattle grazing on the southwestern slopes; and the milling of the local kauri pine for timber. Airlines make domestic connections and link the island to Australia, New Zealand, and other points in the Pacific; ferry service also connects Nouméa with several of the other islands of the territory. There is an extensive road network.

      Although nearly half of the population is Melanesian, there are many Europeans and people of European descent. The island also has small communities of Wallis Islanders, ni-Vanuatu (indigenous people of Vanuatu), Indonesians, and Vietnamese, all of whom were originally brought in as labourers. Area 6,321 square miles (16,372 square km). Pop. (2004) 205,939.

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Universalium. 2010.

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