New Caledonia

Country Summary

2022 population pyramid

Introduction

Background

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.

Geography

Area

total: 18,575 sq km

land: 18,275 sq km

water: 300 sq km

Climate

tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid

Natural resources

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

People and Society

Population

297,160 (2022 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.)

Languages

French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

Religions

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

Population growth rate

1.19% (2022 est.)

Government

Government type

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

Capital

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 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

Economy

Economic overview

upper-middle-income French Pacific territorial economy; large tourism presence that was hit hard by COVID-19; nickel and other metals mining operations; continuing French subsidies; large exporter of nickel to China

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$11.11 billion (2017 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$31,100 (2015 est.)

Agricultural products

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

Industries

nickel mining and smelting

Exports

$2.207 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - partners

China 59%, South Korea 14%, Japan 11% (2019)

Exports - commodities

iron alloys, nickel, cobalt, carbonates, essential oils (2019)

Imports

$2.715 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - partners

France 43%, Australia 12%, Singapore 12%, China 6% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, aircraft, coal, cars, packaged medicines (2019)


Page last updated: Friday, May 13, 2022