territorial collectivity of France since 1998
Capital | Noumea
Population | 227,436 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 19,060 SQ KM
Official Language | French
Holidays | Bastille Day, 14 July (1798)
Currency | Comptoirs Francais du Pacifique (XPF)
Time Zone | UTC +11
Best Time to Visit | May to October, to avoid cyclones and mosquitoes
Connecting with the Culture | Canoeing down a river by moonlight through a drowned forest in the Parc de la Riviere Bleue. Watching the sun set across a tranquil lagoon from anywhere along Ouvea’s white sand beach. Sailing in the glittering bay around lle des Pins. Delving into the architectural masterpiece that is Nomea’s Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre. Scuba-diving in the world’s second-largest reef.
Read | Jean-Marie Tjibao’s Kanake – the Melanesian Way, an insight into Kanak culture featuring color photographs, poems and legends.
Listen | to OK! Roys, a Mare band known for their harmonies and soaring vocals.
Watch | Le Bal du Gouverneur, a romance set in 1950’s New Caledonia
Eat | bougna, a delicious combination of taro, yam, sweet potato, banana and pieces of chicken, crab or lobster cooked in banana leaves in a ground oven.
Drink | kava sold from private houses called nakamal
In a Word | Kanaks traditionally refer to themselves as Ti-Va-Ouere (‘Brothers of the Earth’)
Characteristics | Dispossessed Kanak community; French tourists in abundance; idyllic grass huts on the beach; colonial strife; stunning beaches; clan societies.
Surprises | New Caledonia’s economy centers around mining and metallurgy; cricket has been the favorite sport of Kanak women since the missionaries introduced it in 1850’s.