Settled by both Britain and France during the first half of the 19th century, the island was made 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 a period of 15 to 20 years will transfer an increasing amount of governing responsibility from France to New Caledonia. The agreement also commits France to conduct as many as three referenda between 2013 and 2018, to decide whether New Caledonia should assume full sovereignty and independence.
none (overseas territory of France); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 3 provinces named Province des Iles, Province Nord, and Province Sud
French president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; high commissioner appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the government elected by the members of the Territorial Congress for a five-year term (no term limits); note - last election held on 5 June 2009
elections: unicameral Territorial Congress or Congres du territoire (54 seats; members belong to the three Provincial Assemblies or Assemblees Provinciales elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) last held on 9 May 2009 (next to be held on 10 May 2014)
percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 13, Caledonia Together 10, UC 8, UNI 8, AE 6, FLNKS 3, Labor Party 3, other 3
note:New Caledonia holds two seats in the French Senate; elections last held on 21 September 2008 (next to be held not later than September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2; New Caledonia also elects two seats to the French National Assembly; elections last held on 10 and 17 June 2007 (next to be held in June 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 2
Alliance pour la Caledonie or APLC [Didier LE ROUX]; Caledonia Together [Philippe GOMES]; Caledonian Union or UC [Charles PIDJOT]; Federation des Comites de Coordination des Independantistes or FCCI [Francois BURCK]; Front National or FN [Jean-Marie LE PEN]; Front Uni de Liberation Kanak or FULK [Ernest UNE]; Labor Party or PT [Louis Kora UREGEI]; Kanak Socialist Front for National Liberation or FLNKS (includes PALIKA, UNI, UC, and UPM); Parti de Liberation Kanak or PALIKA [Paul NEAOUTYINE]; Rally for Caledonia or RPC [Jacques LAFLEUR]; The Future Together or AE [Didier LEROUX]; The Rally or UMP [Pierre FROGIER]; Union Nationale pour l'Independance or UNI; Union Progressiste Melanesienne or UPM [Victor TUTUGORO]
New Caledonia has about 25% of the world's known nickel resources. Only a small amount of the land is suitable for cultivation, and food accounts for about 20% of imports. In addition to nickel, substantial financial support from France - equal to more than 15% of GDP - and tourism are keys to the health of the economy. Substantial new investment in the nickel industry, combined with the recovery of global nickel prices, brightens the economic outlook for the next several years.
general assessment: a submarine cable network connection between New Caledonia and Australia, completed in 2007, is expected to significantly increase network capacity and improve high-speed connectivity and access to international networks
combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership exceeds 100 per 100 persons
country code - 687; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Pacific Ocean) (2008)
the publicly-owned French Overseas Network (RFO), which operates in France's overseas departments and territories, broadcasts over the RFO Nouvelle Caledonie television and radio stations; a small number of privately-owned radio stations also broadcast (2008)