New Caledonia

New Caledonia

Basic Data

Official Country Name: New Caledonia
Region (Map name): Oceania
Population: 201,816
Language(s): French, Melanesian-Polynesian
Literacy rate: 91%

The cluster of islands known as New Caledonia contains one of the largest land masses in the Pacific Ocean, plus the archipelago of IIles Loyaute and a collection of small, sparsely populated islands and atolls. Although it was jointly settled by Britain and France, New Caledonia was completely in French hands by 1853. For 40 years, its primary purpose was as a penal colony. Today, the island remains an oversees territory of France, but it enjoys a large degree of autonomy pursuant to the Nouméa Accord, signed by both countries in 1998. Although the Chief of State remains the President of France (represented locally by a High Commissioner), New Caledonia has a President, who heads a unicameral Territorial Congress with 54 seats. The population is approximately 200,000, and the literacy rate is 91 percent. French is the official language, but most speak a Melanesian-Polynesian dialect—there are 33 of them. New Caledonia boasts more than 20 percent of the world's nickel resources, and the economy is largely dependent on international demand. Tourism is also an important industry.

New Caledonia enjoys freedom of speech and the press under French law. The country's daily newspaper is Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes. Founded in 1971, the French-language publication enjoys a circulation of 13,000. It is available online. Running as supplements in the newspaper every Thursday are Les Nouvelles Hebdo, a lifestyle and entertaining publication, and Tele 7 Jours, which provides television programming information. Les Quotidien Caledonien, a French-language weekly, appears every Saturday and specializes in local and regional news. Its circulation is also 13,000.

There are six radio stations, one AM and five FM, serving 107,000 radios. There are six television stations broadcasting to 52,000 televisions. There is one Internet service provider.


"CocoNET Wireless," The University of Queensland, Australia (1997). Available from .

"Country Profile," (2002). Available from .

Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, (2002) Home Page. Available from .

"New Caledonia," CIA World Fact Book (2001). Available from .

Jenny B. Davis

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