New Caledonia

New Caledonia

Country Report

Settled by both Britain and France during the first half of the 19th century, the island became a French possession in 1853. It served as a penal colony for four decades after 1864. Agitation for independence during the 1980s and early 1990s ended in the 1998 Noumea Accord, which over two decades transferred an increasing amount of governing responsibility from France to New Caledonia. In a referendum held in November 2018, residents rejected independence and decided to retain their territorial status, although two additional referendums may occur in 2020 and 2022, per the Noumea Accord.


New Caledonia is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, to the south of Vanuatu, about 1210 km east of Australia. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines and a few remote islets.


Land Mass

18,576 km2

Official Languages

French, Nengone, Paicî, Ajië, Drehu

Exclusive Economic Zone

1.4 million sq km

Head of State

Thierry Santa




Annexed by France in 1853


New Caledonia has 11% of the world’s nickel reserves, representing the second largest reserves on the planet. Only a small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. Substantial financial support from France – equal to more than 15% of GDP – and tourism are keys to the health of the economy.

With the gradual increase in the production of two new nickel plants in 2015, average production of metallurgical goods stood at a record level of 94 thousand tons. However, the sector is exposed to the high volatility of nickel prices, which have been in decline since 2016. In 2017, one of the three major mining firms on the island, Vale, put its operations up for sale, triggering concerns of layoffs ahead of the 2018 independence referendum.

Gross Domestic Product

USD 9.89 billion total
USD 38,921 per capita

Public Debt

6.5% of GDP

Direct Foreign Investment

USD 658.2 million

External Debt

USD 79 million


USD 2,207 billion


CFP Franc

Import - Partners

China 25.4%
Japan 16.6%
South Korea 14.8%
France 8.2%
Belgium 5%
USA 4.6%

Export - Partners

France 24.2%
Singapore 13.1%
China 9.2%
Australia 7.1%
South Korea 5.2%
Malaysia 4.7%
New Zealand 4.4%
USA 4.4%

Unemployment Rate


Population below poverty line


IDD Country Code



New Caledonia