Open main menu

The World Factbook (1990)/New Caledonia


New Caledonia (overseas territory of France)

World Factbook (1990) New Caledonia.jpg

See regional map III


Total area: 19,060 km²; land area: 18,760 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than New Jersey

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 2,254 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid

Terrain: coastal plains with interior mountains

Natural resources: nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper

Land use: NEGL% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 14% meadows and pastures; 51% forest and woodland; 35% other

Environment: typhoons most frequent from November to March

Note: located 1,750 km east of Australia in the South Pacific Ocean


Population: 153,215 (July 1990), growth rate 1.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 24 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -7 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 39 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 64 years male, 71 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.0 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—New Caledonian(s); adjective—New Caledonian

Ethnic divisions: Melanesian 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallisian 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3.0%

Religion: over 60% Roman Catholic, 30% Protestant, 10% other

Language: French; Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

Labor force: 50,469; foreign workers for plantations and mines from Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, and French Polynesia (1980 est.)

Organized labor: NA


Long-form name: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies

Type: overseas territory of France

Capital: Nouméa

Administrative divisions: none (overseas territory of France)

Independence: none (overseas territory of France); note—a referendum on independence will be held in 1998 (there will be a review of the issue in 1992)

Constitution: 28 September 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system: the 1988 Matignon Accords grant substantial autonomy to the islands; formerly under French law

National holiday: Taking of the Bastille, 14 July (1789)

Executive branch: high commissioner, Consultative Committee (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral Territorial Assembly

Judicial branch: Court of Appeal

Leaders: Chief of State—President François MITTERRAND (since 21 May 1981);

Head of Government—High Commissioner and President of the Council of Government Bernard GRASSET (since 15 July 1988)

Political parties: white-dominated Rassemblement pour la Calédonie dans la République (RPCR), conservative; Melanesian proindependence Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS); Melanesian moderate Kanak Socialist Liberation (LKS); National Front (FN), extreme right; Caledonian Separatist Front, extreme left

Suffrage: universal adult at age NA

Elections: Territorial Congress—last held NA June 1989 (next to be held NA 1993); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(54 total) RPCR 27, FLNKS 19, FN 3, others 5;

French Senate—last held 24 September 1989 (next to be held September 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(1 total) RPCR 1;

French National Assembly—last held 5 and 12 June 1988 (next to be held June 1993); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(2 total) RPCR 2

Communists: number unknown; Palita extreme left party; some politically active Communists deported during 1950s; small number of North Vietnamese

Member of: EIB (associate), WFTU, WMO

Diplomatic representation: as an overseas territory of France, New Caledonian interests are represented in the US by France

Flag: the flag of France is used


Overview: New Caledonia has more than 40% 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 25% of imports.

GNP: $860 million, per capita $5,810; real growth rate 2.4%. (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1986)

Unemployment rate: 6.2% (1983)

Budget: revenues $110.5 million; expenditures $110.5 million, including capital expenditures of NA (1981)

Exports: $75 million (f.o.b., 1986); commodities—nickel metal 87%, nickel ore; partners—France 56.3%, Japan

Imports: $180 million (c.i.f., 1986); commodities—foods, fuels, minerals, machines, electrical equipment; partners—France 50.3%, Australia

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 400,000 kW capacity; 2,200 million kWh produced, 14,440 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: nickel mining

Agriculture: large areas devoted to cattle grazing; coffee, corn, wheat, vegetables; 60% self-sufficient in beef

Aid: Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $3.6 billion

Currency: Comptoirs Français du Pacifique franc (plural—francs); 1 CFP franc (CFPF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comptoirs Français du Pacifique francs (CFPF) per US$1—104.71 (January 1990), 115.99 (1989), 108.30 (1988), 109.27 (1987), 125.92 (1986), 163.35 (1985); note—linked at the rate of 18.18 to the French franc

Fiscal year: calendar year


Highways: 5,448 km total; 558 km paved, 2,251 km improved earth, 2,639 km unimproved earth

Ports: Noumea, Nepoui, Poro, Thio

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airports: 29 total, 27 usable; 5 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 1 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 32,578 telephones (1987); stations—5 AM, 3 FM, 7 TV; 1 Pacific Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of France