New Caledonia

Country Summary



The Lapita, skilled navigators, first settled in New Caledonia around 1600 B.C. British explorers arrived in 1774. In 1853, France annexed New Caledonia. During World War II, New Caledonia became an important base for Allied troops.  In 1953, French citizenship was granted to all inhabitants.



total: 18,575 sq km
land: 18,275 sq km
water: 300 sq km


tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid

Natural resources

nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper

People and Society


300,682 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Kanak 39.1%, European 27.1%, Wallisian, Futunian 8.2%, Tahitian 2.1%, Indonesian 1.4%, Ni-Vanuatu 1%, Vietnamese 0.9%, other 17.7%, unspecified 2.5% (2014 est.)


French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects


Christian 85.2%, Muslim 2.8%, other 1.6%, unaffiliated 10.4% (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.17% (2023 est.)


Government type

parliamentary democracy (Territorial Congress); an overseas collectivity of France


name: Noumea

Executive branch

chief of state: President Emmanuel MACRON (since 14 May 2017); represented by High Commissioner Patrice FAURE (since 6 June 2021)
head of government: President of the Government Louis MAPOU (since 22 July 2021); Vice President Isabelle CHAMPMOREAU (since 22 July 2021)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Territorial Congress or Congrès du Territoire (54 seats; members indirectly selected proportionally by the partisan makeup of the 3 Provincial Assemblies or Assemblés Provinciales; members of the 3 Provincial Assemblies directly elected by party-list proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms); note - 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 indirectly elects 2 members to the French Senate by an electoral colleges for a 6-year term with one seat renewed every 3 years and directly elects 2 members to the French National Assembly by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term


Economic overview

upper-middle-income French Pacific territorial economy; enormous nickel reserves; ongoing French independence negotiations; large Chinese nickel exporter; luxury eco-tourism destination; large French aid recipient; high cost-of-living; lingering wealth disparities

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$10.266 billion (2021 est.)
$11.11 billion (2017 est.)
$10.89 billion (2016 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$35,700 (2021 est.)
$31,100 (2015 est.)
$32,100 (2014 est.)

Agricultural products

coconuts, vegetables, maize, fruit, beef, pork, potatoes, bananas, eggs, yams


nickel mining and smelting


6.58% of GDP (2020 est.)
6.58% of GDP (2019 est.)
6.31% of GDP (2018 est.)


$1.92 billion (2021 est.)
$1.8 billion (2020 est.)
$1.79 billion (2019 est.)

Exports - partners

China 55%, South Korea 16%, Japan 11%, Taiwan 4%, Spain 3% (2021)

Exports - commodities

iron alloys, nickel, essential oils, recreational boats, shrimp (2021)


$2.26 billion (2021 est.)
$2.1 billion (2020 est.)
$2.48 billion (2019 est.)

Imports - partners

France 39%, Australia 14%, Singapore 11%, New Zealand 7%, China 7% (2021)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, coal, cars, packaged medicines, delivery trucks (2021)

Exchange rates

Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique francs (XPF) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
100.88 (2021 est.)
104.711 (2020 est.)
106.589 (2019 est.)
101.047 (2018 est.)
105.633 (2017 est.)

Page last updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2023