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New Caledonia

Facts About New Caledonia

Background: 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 seems to have dissipated.
Dependency status: overseas territory of France since 1956
Capital: Noumea
Currency: 1 Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Geography of New Caledonia

Location: Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 21 30 S, 165 30 E
total: 19,060 sq km
land: 18,575 sq km
water: 485 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 2,254 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid
Terrain: 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: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 12%
forests and woodland: 39%
other: 49% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 160 sq km (1991)
Natural hazards: cyclones, most frequent from November to March
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.

People of New Caledonia

Population: 216,494 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  30.31%
15-64 years:  63.95% 
65 years and over:  5.74%
Population growth rate: 1.48% 
Birth rate: 20.37 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 5.62 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 8.4 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  73.02 years
male:  70.08 years
female:  76.11 years 
Total fertility rate: 2.48 children born/woman 
noun: New Caledonian(s)
adjective: New Caledonian
Ethnic groups: Melanesian 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallisian 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3%
Religions: Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, other 10%
Languages: French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91%
male: 92%
female: 90% (1976 est.)

New Caledonia Economy

Economy – overview: New Caledonia has more than 20% of the world’s known nickel resources. In recent years, the economy has suffered because of depressed international demand for nickel, the principal source of export earnings. Only a negligible amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, the substantial financial support from France and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. The situation in 1998 was clouded by the spillover of financial problems in East Asia and by lower prices for nickel. Nickel prices jumped in 1999-2000, and large additions were made to capacity. French Government interests in the New Caledonian nickel industry are being transferred to local ownership.

GDP: purchasing power parity – $3 billion (1998 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 3.5% (1998 est.)
GDP – per capita: purchasing power parity – $15,000 (1998 est.)
GDP – composition by sector:
agriculture: 4%
industry: 30%
services: 66% (1997 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1998 est.)
Labor force: 79,395 (including 15, 018 unemployed, 1996)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture 7%, industry 23%, services 70% (1999 est.)
Unemployment rate: 19% (1996)
revenues: $861.3 million
expenditures: $735.3 million, including capital expenditures of $52 million (1996 est.)
Industries: nickel mining and smelting
Industrial production growth rate: -0.6% (1996)
Electricity – production: 1.52 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity – production by source:
fossil fuel:  78.95%
hydro:  21.05%
nuclear:  0%
other:  0% (1999)
Electricity – consumption: 1.414 billion kWh (1999)
Agriculture – products: vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products
Exports: $411 million (f.o.b., 1999
Exports – commodities: ferronickels, nickel ore, fish
Exports – partners: Japan 27%, France 17%, Taiwan 12%, South Korea 9% (1999)
Imports: $843 million (f.o.b., 1999)
Imports – commodities: transport equipment, machinery and electrical equipment, fuels, minerals, wine, sugar, rice
Imports – partners: France 49%, Australia 14%, Singapore 6%, New Zealand 5%, US 5% (1999)
Debt – external: $79 million (1998 est.)
Economic aid – recipient: $880 million annual subsidy from France
Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)

Map Of New Caledonia