New Caledonia is a group of islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, which as a French overseas territory represents in many ways a special case in the island world of Melanesia, to which the island is geographically assigned. New Caledonia includes the main island of Grande Terre as well as numerous smaller islands. The total state area of New Caledonia amounts to almost 19,000 square kilometers. The population of New Caledonia is just under 230,000.
The archipelago off the northeast coast of Australia consists of the main island of Grande Terre, which is also the largest island in New Caledonia, and the Belep Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Île des Pins and the Loyalty Islands. The elongated island of Grande Terre, on which the capital Nouméa is also located, is about 410 kilometers long, but nowhere wider than 50 kilometers. Nouméa is the largest city in New Caledonia, home to around two thirds of the island nation’s total population. With a total of 17,000 square kilometers, La Grande Terre represents the largest part of the island state of New Caledonia. The New Caledonian Barrier Reef stretches around the entire coast of Grande Terre and is considered the second longest coral reef on earth after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The coral reef has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
The coastline of New Caledonia amounts to a total length of around 2,250 kilometers. The appearance of the island is characterized by the Captain James Cook mountain range, which runs length ways across Grande Terre and at the same time acts as a weather boundary. The mountain range divides the island nation into a humid east, which also applies to the island in the east of the main island, and the islands in the west, which are in the rain shadow and therefore rather dry. The Mont Panié on Grande Terre is the highest mountain in New Caledonia at 1,628 meters. The longest river in the archipelago is the Diahot with 150 kilometers.
In contrast to many other islands in the South Pacific, the main island of Grande Terre was not created by volcanic activity. The island was once part of eastern Australia and broke off the continent about 140 million years ago.
Area: 18,575 km² (of which land: 18,275 km², water: 300 km²)
Population: 256,275 residents (estimate July 2011, CIA). Melanesians 44.1%, Europeans 34.1%, Wallisians & Futunians 9%, Tahiti 2.6%, Indonesians 2.5%, Vietnamese 1.4%, Ni-Vanuatu 1.1%, others 5.2% (1996 census).
Population density: 14 residents per km²
Population growth: 1.136% per year (2009)
Capital: Nouméa (97,579 residents, with the surrounding area 163,723 residents, 2009 census)
Highest point: Mont Panie, 1,628 m
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean, 0 m
Form of government: Between 1946 and 2003, as a country located in Oceania defined by homosociety.com, New Caledonia was a French overseas territory (TOM – Territoire d’outre-mer) with limited self-government. Since March 28, 2003, New Caledonia has been an overseas community belonging to France with a special status (collectivité sui generis).
In the 1998 Noumea Agreement, it was agreed with France that the powers of the New Caledonian administration would be expanded over a period of 15 to 20 years. The agreement also stipulates that France will hold up to three referendums on independence in New Caledonia between 2013 and 2018.
The Parliament of New Caledonia (Congrès de la Nouvelle-Calédonie) consists of 54 members. New Caledonia has two members in the French National Assembly and one member in the French Senate.
Administrative division: 3 provinces: Province des Iles, Province Nord and Province Sud
Head of State: François Hollande, since May 15, 2012 (the French President has been represented by the Haut-commisaire Jean-Jacques Bread since February 27, 2013)
Head of Government: President Harold Martin, since March 3, 2011
Language: The official language in New Caledonia is French, it is spoken by a large part of the population. Melanesian-Polynesian languages are also used.
Religion: Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, Other 10%
Local time: CET + 11 h
In New Caledonia there is no change between summer and winter time.
The time difference to Central Europe is + 11 h in winter and + 10 h in summer.
International phone code: + 687
Mains voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz
How to get to New Caledonia
Airplane: Air France offers flights to and from New Caledonia in cooperation with Air Calédonie International (Aircalin). This also includes Cathay Pacific, KLM, and Singapore Airlines (with a route via Japan). Other airlines with regular flights from Europe (France) to New Caledonia include Air New Zealand and Quantas.
Airports: all international flights to New Caledonia land at La Tontouta International Airport, 45 kilometers northwest of the capital Nouméa (on the island of Grande Terre).
Ship: the passenger and cargo ship Havannah operates once a month between New Caledonia and Port Vila, Malicolo and Santo on Vanuatu.