Brief History of New Caledonia:
New Caledonia is an island nation located near Australia in the South Pacific. The largest island is the island of New Caledonia. Other major islands are the Loyalty Islands and the Isle of Pines.
The islands were originally settled by the Lapita people. They arrived in New Caledonia in 1500 BC. Much later, in the 1000s BC, the Polynesians arrived.
Europeans arrived and began to settle the islands in the 19th century. Both the French and the British settled on the islands. In 1853 New Caledonia became a French colony. For some time after 1854 the island served as a penal colony, meaning that the French sent their convicts and prisoners to live on the island.
In the 1980s and 1990s the local New Caledonians began to ask for independence. Per the Noumea Accord, more and more responsibility will be moved from France to New Caledonia. Sometime between 2014 and 2019, the country may be made fully independent.
The Geography of New Caledonia
Total Size: 19,060 square km
Size Comparison: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Geographical Coordinates: 21 30 S, 165 30 E
World Region or Continent: Oceania
General Terrain: coastal plains with interior mountains
Geographical Low Point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
Geographical High Point: Mont Panie 1,628 m
Climate: tropical; modified by southeast trade winds; hot, humid
Major cities: NOUMEA (capital) 144,000 (2009)
The People of New Caledonia
Type of Government: NA
Languages Spoken: French (official), 33 Melanesian-Polynesian dialects
Independence: none (overseas territory of France); note - a referendum on independence was held in 1998 but did not pass; a new referendum is scheduled for 2014
National Holiday: Bastille Day, 14 July (1789)
Nationality: New Caledonian(s)
Religions: Roman Catholic 60%, Protestant 30%, other 10%
National Symbol: kagu bird
National Anthem or Song: Soyons unis, devenons freres (Let Us Be United, Let Us Become Brothers)
Economy of New Caledonia
Major Industries: nickel mining and smelting
Agricultural Products: vegetables; beef, deer, other livestock products; fish
Natural Resources: nickel, chrome, iron, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, copper
Major Exports: ferronickels, nickel ore, fish
Major Imports: machinery and equipment, fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs
Currency: Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique franc (XPF)
National GDP: $3,158,000,000
** Source for population (2012 est.) and GDP (2011 est.) is CIA World Factbook.
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