Geographic and Governmental Profile of 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 a referendum between 2014 and 2018 to decide whether New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.
Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates
21 30 S, 165 30 E
Continent / Subcontinent
18,575 sq km
18,275 sq km
300 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries
0 km
2,254 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid
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:
permanent crops:
99.46% (2005)
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Irrigated land
100 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards
cyclones, most frequent from November to March
Matthew and Hunter Islands are historically active
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
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:
Dependency status
territorial collectivity (or a sui generis collectivity) of France since 1998
Government type
parliamentary representative democracy
geographic coordinates:
22 16 S, 166 27 E
time difference:
UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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 Province des Iles, Province Nord, and Province Sud
none (overseas territory of France); note - a referendum on independence was held in 1998 but did not pass; a new referendum is scheduled to take place between 2014 and 2018
National holiday
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - the local holiday is New Caledonia Day, 24 September (1853)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system
civil law system based on French law; the 1988 Matignon Accords grant substantial autonomy to the islands
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012); represented by High Commissioner Albert DUPUY (since 6 October 2010)
head of government:
President of the Government Harold MARTIN (since 3 March 2011); note - since 3 March 2011, three different governments of Harold MARTIN have collapsed over the choice of a flag that will be used while it is being decolonized; President MARTIN is head of a caretaker government
Cabinet consisting of 11 members elected from and by the Territorial Congress
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 for a five-year term (no term limits); note - last election held on 10 June 2011 (next to be held June 2016)
Legislative branch
unicameral Territorial Congress or Congres du territoire (54 seats; members belong to the three Provincial Assemblies, or Assemblees Provinciales, elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
last held on 9 May 2009 (next to be held on 10 May 2014)
election results:
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 13, Caledonia Together 10, UC 8, UNI 8, AE 6, FLNKS 3, Labor Party 3, other 3
the Customary Senate is the assembly of the various traditional councils of the Kanaks, the indigenous population, which rules on laws affecting the indigenous population; New Caledonia holds two seats in the French Senate; elections last held on 21 September 2008 (next to be held not later than September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2; New Caledonia also elects two seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held on 10 and 17 June 2007 (next to be held in June 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2
Judicial branch
Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel; County Courts; Joint Commerce Tribunal Court; Children's Court
Political parties and leaders
Caledonia My Country; Caledonia Together [Philippe GOMES]; Caledonian Union or UC [Nicholas ABOUT]; Communist Republican and Left Party or CRC-SPG [Nichole BORVO COHEN-SEAT]; Democratic and European Social Rally or R.D.S.E. [Yvon COLLIN]; Front National or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM); Labor Party [Louis Kotra UREGEI]; National Union for Independence (Union Nationale pour l'Independance) or UNI; Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE]; Renewed Caledonian Union; Socialist Group [Jean Pierre BEL]; Socialist Kanak Liberation or LKS [Nidoish NAISSELINE]; The Future Together or AE [Didier LEROUX]; The Rally or UMP [Gerard LONGUET]; Union of Pro-Independence Co-operation Committees [Francois BURCK]
Political pressure groups and leaders
International organization participation
PIF (associate member), SPC, UPU, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US
none (overseas territory of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US
none (overseas territory of France)
Flag description
the flag of France is used
National symbol(s)
kagu bird
National anthem
"Soyons unis, devenons freres" (Let Us Be United, Let Us Become Brothers)
Chorale Melodia (a local choir)
adopted 2008; the anthem contains a mixture of lyrics in both French and Nengone (an indigenous language); as a self-governing territory of France, in addition to the local anthem, "La Marseillaise" is official (see France)
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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