According to abbreviationfinder, New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie, Kanaky) is a French territory of 18,575 km², composed of a main island and several smaller islands, in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean. According to the 2004 census, there are approximately 230,789 residents. It has its own internet domain: .nc. See New Caledonia facts.
Contrary to many Pacific Islands which are of recent volcanic origin, New Caledonia is an ancient fragment of the supercontinent Gondwana. New Caledonia and New Zealand separated from Australia 85 million years ago. The islands still preserve flora and fauna that originated in Gondwana. The best known species is the Cagou or Kagu, a bird the size of a hen and incapable of flight, with a long crest and a graceful cackle. The Niaouli tree, which also grows in Australia and New Zealand is of medical interest since it is used to fight colds.
Before the arrival of the Europeans, the only mammal existing on the island was the roussette (flying fox), a huge vegetarian bat, which is a delight for the local residents. The islands form two ecoregions, the New Caledonian rain forest in the Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines and the eastern part of Grande Terre and the New Caledonian dry forest in the western part of Grande Terre. The latter was where the Europeans settled, leaving the eastern part to the Kanakas.
Along with other territories in French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia is part of the French Republic. Its official status is that of Colectividad Sui Generis (collectivité Sui Generis), it is a unique status within the republic. New Caledonia was a colony until 1946, then an overseas territory from 1946 to 1999. The capital is Nouméa en Grande Terre. The legal tender is the CFP Franc, also used in the French Polynesia and in Wallis and Futuna.
The status only New Caledonia is between an independent country and a French Overseas Department. On the one hand, a Territorial Congress (Congrés du Terrotoire) and a territorial government have been established. Key points such as taxes, labor law, health and foreign trade are in the hands of the Territorial Congress ; and even more powers will be granted to him. Eventually, the French Republic will deal only with foreign affairs, justice, defense, public order and treasury.
A new citizenship has been introduced: only citizens of New Caledonia have the right to vote in local elections. This measure has been criticized because it turns French citizens living in New Caledonia into second-class citizens, since they do not have New Caledonian citizenship as they have recently arrived on the islands. International cooperation with other Pacific nations is allowed and the Territorial Congress can pass statutes that are derogatory to French law in certain matters. On the other hand, New Caledonia continues to be an integral part of the French Republic. The people of New Caledonia are French citizens and carry French passports.
They take part in the legislative and presidential elections. It sends two representatives to the French National Assembly and a Senator to the French Senate. The High Commissioner of the Republic is in charge of representing the central power in New Caledonia and is the head of the civil services and has a seat in the local government. In the Nouméa Accords it was established that the Territorial Congress will have the right to hold a referendum on independence after 2014. The current president of the government elected by the Territorial Congress is Marie-Nöelle Thémereau, from the anti-independence party Avenir Ensemble (Future Together).
This party is basically made up of Caucasians and Polynesians from New Caledonia who oppose independence. Avenir Ensemble opposes the racial vision of local society, which pits the native Melanesian residents of the islands against the Europeans, and favors the existence of a multicultural New Caledonia, which better reflects the existence of large populations of Polynesians, Indonesians , Chinese and other immigrants.
Political life is complicated by the fact that the indigenous population of Melanesian Kanaks is now a minority, accounting for 44% of the total. The rest of the population is made up of whites (34%), Polynesians (11.5%), Indonesians (2.5%), Vietnamese (1.4%), Ni-Vanuatu (1.1%), and others. (5.5%). There is a contingent of people who come from France to work for one or two years or to retire. Population censuses are extremely critical to the balance of power in the territory, and the organization of a new census has been postponed since 1996.
The population is estimated to have grown notably since 1996 due in particular to the arrival of French from Metropolitan France. Currently the population could be as high as 300,000 (from 196,836 in 1996). According to data from the airport, between 1,000 and 5,000 French metropolitans are arriving each year. This data is controversial, especially among the indigenous population. In the census carried out in 2004, whose data are yet to be published, the question regarding the ethnicorigin of the respondents was eliminated since the French Constitution establishes that no distinction should be made between the French by their race or religion; therefore, it will be impossible to know the ethnic balance of the territory.