The World Factbook (1982)/New Caledonia

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The World Factbook (1982)
by the Central Intelligence Agency
New Caledonia


(See reference map X)


22,015 km2; 6% cultivable, 22% pasture land, 15% forests, 57% waste or other


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 12 nm (fishing 200 nm; exclusive economic zone 200 nm)

Coastline: 2,254 km


Population: 138,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 0.5%

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

Ethnic divisions: Melanesian 42%; French 40%; remainder Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, Polynesian

Religion: natives 90% Christian

Language: Melanesian-Polynesian dialects

Literacy: unknown

Labor force: size unknown; Javanese and Tonkinese laborers were imported for plantations and mines in pre-World War II period; immigrant labor now coming from Wallis Islands, New Hebrides, and French Polynesia

Organized labor: labor not organized


Official name: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies

Type: French overseas territory; represented in French parliament by one deputy and one senator

Capital: Noumea

Political subdivisions: 4 islands or island group dependencies—Isle of Pines, Loyalty Islands, Huon Islands, Island of New Caledonia

Legal system: French law

Branches: administered by High Commissioner, responsible to French Ministry for Overseas France and Governing Council; Assemblee Territoriale

Government leader: Claude CHARBONNIAUD, French High Commissioner and President of the Council of Government

Suffrage: universal

Elections: Assembly elections every five years, last in September 1977

Political parties: Rassemblement pour la Caledonie—Conservative; Union Caledonienne—eventual independence; Union Multiraciale and Palika—independence parties Voting strength (1977 election): Rassemblement pour la Caledonie, 12 seats; Union Caledonienne, 9 seats; Palika, 2 seats; 8 other parties divide up remaining 12 seats

Communists: number unknown; Union Caledonienne strongly leftist; some politically active Communists were deported during 1950s; small number of North Vietnamese

Other political parties and pressure groups: several lesser parties

Member of: EIB (associate)


GNP: $569 million (1977), $4,000 per capita; -1.0% growth (1977)

Agriculture: large areas devoted to cattle grazing; major products—coffee and vegetables; 60% self-sufficient in beef; must import grains and vegetables

Industry: mining of nickel

Electric power: 365,000 kW capacity (1981); 1.606 billion kWh produced (1981), 11,723 kWh per capita

Exports: $363.3 million (f.o.b., 1977); 95% nickel, coffee

Imports: $340 million (c.i.f., 1977); 26% mineral fuel imports, 21% machinery, transport equipment, food

Major trade partners: (1976) exports—49% France, 29% Japan, 16% US; imports— 39% France, 13% Australia, 11% rest of EC

Monetary conversion rate: 75 CFP francs=US$1 (1978/79)


Railroads: none

Highways: 5,448 km total (1977); 558 km paved, 2,251 km improved earth, 2,639 km unimproved earth

Inland waterways: none

Ports: 1 major (Noumea), 21 minor

Civil air: no major transport aircraft

Airfields: 31 total, 30 usable; 4 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 2 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 23,000 telephones (17.0 per 100 popl.); 5 AM, no FM, and 7 TV stations; 1 earth satellite station