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State

Capital

New Caledonia*

Noumea

Currency unit

CFP franc

Connections

Australia

EU

France

Francophonie

Western Pacific

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

History

French overseas territory (colony)

A continental island to the east of Australia.

The first human settlement was as early as 2000 BC and was probably by Austronesians. The present population is about 151,000.

The French explorer de Bougainville is believed to have visited in 1768. James Cook in 1774 landed and named the island for Scotland. The French then explored it in 1792 and sent missionaries in 1840. The French annexed the islands in 1853 after missionaries and a team from a survey ship were said to have been eaten by the inhabitants. It was used as a penal colony from 1864 to 1897. Nickel was found in 1863. There were uprisings by natives until 1917. In 1942 a US military base for use in the Pacific war was constructed, which led to the construction of roads in many parts of the island. The desire for independence by the natives is frustrated by the settlers.

The Melanesians (Kanaks) are the indigenous population. At present it is estimated that 40% of the people are Kanaks; 33% are Europeans, mostly from France; 12.5% from Tahiti and Wallisians; the rest Javanese and Vietnamese. The Loyalty Islands which are administered with the main islands are inhabited by Polynesians. Many of the Melanesians live on reservations.

The islands are perhaps the French equivalent of New Zealand - that is a settler colony in which the natives feel they have lost their land.

To combat rising conflict the French imposed a year of direct rule which ended in 1989 to be replaced by limited self-government within the French Republic.

There is an agreement for slow movement towards independence.

Languages

Melanesian langs.

French

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Politics

There is a territorial assembly and three provincial assemblies. There is a growing nationalist movement by the Melanesians who resent the French settler presence. This has resulted in a state of low level guerrilla war. The voting system is probably designed to prevent the Melanesians gaining overall power.

There are three provinces: Southern is dominated by French settlers; Northern by Kanaks; Loyalty Islands also dominated by the natives, in this case Polynesian. The question of independence is still open but has been put off until 1998. However, no new immigrants can acquire the vote following the agreement of 1988.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

There are important nickel deposits, doubtless the reason which makes the French hang on to the islands so tenaciously.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

 Climate

Green/Ecology

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Climate

Human Rights

Climate effects

Last revised 20/02/03


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