New Caledonia (fr. Nouvelle-Calédonie) is a special administrative-territorial entity of France, located in the Pacific Ocean. It is represented by a large island of the same name and a group of small islands in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean, in Melanesia. It borders the economic zone of Australia in the southwest, Vanuatu in the north, and Fiji in the southeast. Population - 245,580 people (2009). The capital is the city of Noumea (98 thousand). The monetary unit is the French Pacific franc.
The English navigator James Cook in 1774 discovered the largest and main island of the archipelago and named it "New Caledonia" in honor of the ancient name of the homeland of his ancestors - Scotland. Subsequently, the name spread to the entire archipelago.
The largest island of New Caledonia is Grande-Terre, which is mostly mountainous (the highest point is Mount Panier, 1628 m). The shores are heavily indented and have many convenient bays, access to which is difficult due to coral reefs. Grande Terre is surrounded by a long reef ridge. The island is composed mainly of ophiolite complexes. Climatic conditions are quite favorable. This circumstance contributed to the transformation of New Caledonia into a European migrant colony. There are many rivers on the island, fertile red earth soils prevail. Forests occupy about 15% of the territory. A number of valuable tree species grow, including various types of coniferous agathis and araucaria (Araucaria columnaris is depicted on the coat of arms of New Caledonia). The fauna of New Caledonia is relatively poor, however, there are endemics. There are a very large number of geckos on the island.
The climate of New Caledonia is tropical, accommodating two seasons: a hot and humid period from November to March with temperatures from 27°C to 30°C and a cooler dry period from June to August with temperatures from 20°C to 23°C, which are associated two short intervals. The tropical climate varies greatly under the influence of the ocean and the trade winds, which reduce humidity, the value of which can be close to 80%. The average annual temperature is 23°C, with historical extremes of 2.3°C and 39.1°C. The annual rainfall varies from 3000 mm in the eastern part of the archipelago to 700 mm in the west. There are also dry periods due to the effects of El Niño. Between December and April, tropical cyclones can result in wind speeds in excess of 100 km/h and occasional gusts in excess of 250 km/h, with very heavy rainfall. The last cyclone to affect New Caledonia was Cyclone Cook in January 2017. The trade wind season lasts from September to November-December: the weather is very windy, but the sky is clear.
The island was discovered by James Cook in 1774, named after the
ancient name of the homeland of his ancestors, Scotland - Caledonia.
Inhabited about 3500 years ago. The history of the island before contact with Europeans can be traced back to the 13th century BC. e. thanks to the remains of ancient ceramics found in 1917.
Active penetration of Europeans into New Caledonia began in the 1840s - these were sandalwood traders, as well as English and French missionaries. France claimed the islands of New Caledonia as its possession in 1853, and from 1864 to 1896 the French government sent convicted criminals to this colony, in particular Louise Michel. On the island, the French planted coffee and coconut palms, then (from the end of the 19th century) mining of mineral resources began - nickel, cobalt, chromium, iron, manganese, gold, lead, etc. In 1946, New Caledonia received the status of an overseas territory of France. In the 1980s and early 1990s, there were riots organized by part of the aboriginal population (Melanesians) under the slogan of granting independence to the island.
Administrative-territorial formation of France with a special status. French authority in the territory is represented by a high commissioner appointed by the President of France. Executive power is exercised by the local government, which consists of 11 members appointed from among the deputies of the congress of the territory (local parliament). The Congress consists of 54 deputies, elected every five years. The people of New Caledonia also elect two French MPs and two French Senators.
Following the results of the elections on May 12, 2019:
"Future with confidence" (L'Avenir en confiance, bloc of 5 republican parties opposing the country's independence) - 18 seats in the Territorial Congress of New Caledonia (+5 to the 2014 elections).
"National Union for Independence" (Union nationale pour l'indépendance, bloc of 4 socialist parties) - 9 seats (+2).
Block "Caledonian Union - Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front" (block of leftist socialist organizations supporting Melanesian socialism and advocating independence) - 9 seats (-1).
"Caledonia together" (Calédonie ensemble, a liberal-conservative party opposed to independence) - 7 seats (-8).
"Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front" - 5 seats (+2).
Oceania Awakening (L'Éveil océanien, anti-independence centrist party) - 3 seats (new party).
"Labor Party" (Parti travailliste, radical leftist nationalist party advocating independence) - 1st place (+1).
"Kanak Socialist Liberation" (Libération Kanak Socialiste, left-wing nationalist party advocating Melanesian socialism and independence) - 1st place (new party).
In total, there are 28 deputies in the Parliament of New Caledonia against independence, 26 deputies for independence.
On September 13, 1987, the first referendum on the independence of New Caledonia was held. The referendum was boycotted by supporters of independence, so the turnout was only 59% of voters, and only 1.7% of those who came to the polls voted for independence.
In 1998, the Noumea Agreement was signed, according to which, after 20 years, the inhabitants of the territory have the right to hold three referendums on the issue of independence, with a difference of two years. The first of the referendums envisaged by the agreement was held on November 4, 2018. This vote dealt with "the transfer to New Caledonia of state powers, international status with full responsibility, and the organization of citizenship". According to the results of the referendum, more than 56% of those participating in the vote opposed independence from France, the turnout in the referendum was 81%. At the same time, 17% of voters were excluded from voting - those who were born in France and moved to New Caledonia after 1994.
The second independence referendum took place on October 4, 2020. 53% of the participants were against independence, with a turnout of over 85%. At the same time, public opinion polls have not been conducted for the past six months, and it was difficult to predict the outcome of the vote. Under the 1998 agreement, New Caledonia has the option to vote again for independence in 2022 if at least a third of the local legislature of Congress so decides. In December 2021, the third and final referendum was held with 95% opposed to the territory's independence from France, with a turnout of 44%.
Population - 275,355 (2016 census).
Annual growth - 1.35%.
Fertility - 2.15 births per woman.
The average life expectancy is 77.7 years (73.7 for men, 81.9 for women).
Infant mortality - 5.3 per 1000.
Ethnic composition: Melanesians (Kanaks) - 39.1% (105,088 people), whites (Kaldoshes, mostly French) - 27.2% (73,105 people), Uveans and Futunans - 8.2% (22,038 people), Polynesians - 2.1% (5644 people), Indonesians - 1.4% (3763 people), Vietnamese - 0.9% (2418 people), Ni-Vanuatu - 1% (2680 people). ), others (descendants of mixed marriages of the French, Arabs, Asians) - 21% (56,440 people). (Census 2014).
Languages: French (official) and 33 Melanesian and Polynesian languages and dialects.
Religions: the majority of the population are Christians (Catholics - 60%, Protestants - 30%, mostly Calvinists), as well as Sunni Muslims (4%). Melanesians, along with Christianity, profess traditional local beliefs.
Literacy - 96.9% (aged 15 years and older).
The urban population is 70.2%.
The economy of New Caledonia is based on nickel mining. Tourism
brings substantial income, as well as financial subsidies from France.
Industries: nickel and iron mining, non-ferrous metallurgy, fishing.
Minerals: deposits of nickel (25% of the world's proven reserves) and iron. In addition, there are deposits of ores of chromium, cobalt, manganese, silver, gold, lead, and copper.
In agriculture, coffee trees, coconut palms, potatoes, sunflowers, wheat, corn, yams, taro, sweet potato, cassava are grown. Cattle are bred, as well as pigs, goats, sheep and horses.
Export (2.207 billion dollars in 2014) - ferronickel, nickel ore, fish.
The main buyers are China 31.7%, Japan 15.1%, South Korea 10.6%, Australia 8%, France 7.1%, Belgium 5.1% (2015).
Imports ($4.4 billion in 2014) - machinery and equipment, fuel, chemicals, food.
The main suppliers are France 35%, Australia 11.3%, South Korea 8.5%, Singapore 5.3%, Malaysia 5.2%, China 4.4% (2015)
Unlike other countries of Melanesia, in New Caledonia, European culture completely prevails over the culture of the natives. This predominance is especially strong in the capital Noumea, which is a typical European city. The villages inhabited by aborigines are strongly Europeanized, although they retain some traditional features in their appearance. The traditional New Caledonian dwelling - round or rectangular, covered with palm leaves - is now found only in small villages most remote from Nouméa. In some places, local-type round dwellings with a high conical roof are built for themselves by traditional leaders. Almost nothing was preserved among the natives and from the former utensils, clothing. Melano-New Caledonians now wear European cut clothing. Aborigines preserve traditional cooking skills somewhat better, but even here European influence is increasingly felt.
Holidays in New Caledonia:
January 1 - New Year
March-April - Easter
May 1 - Labor Day
May 8 - Liberation Day
May - Ascension of Christ, Trinity and Spirits day
July 14 - Bastille Day
August 15 - Assumption of the Virgin
November 1 - All Saints Day
November 11 - Memorial Day (World War I Armistice Day)
December 25 - Christmas