New Caledonia is the third largest island in the South Pacific after Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, with an area of 18,575 square kilometres. The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of New Caledonia is estimated at 1,450,000 square kilometres (oceanic zone of 200 nautical miles around land masses), that is about half the size of the Mediterranean Sea (3 times the size of Metropolitan France).
• Nouméa – Paris : 16,674 kilometres.
• Nouméa – Los Angeles : 10,095 kilometres.
• Nouméa – Tokyo : 6,972 kilometres.
• Nouméa – Auckland : 1,859 kilometres.
• Nouméa – Brisbane : 1,500 kilometres.
• Nouméa – Suva : 1,400 kilometres.
• Nouméa – Port-Vila : 527 kilometres.
The 2014 census puts New Caledonia’s population at 268,767 inhabitants, an increase of 9.4% compared to 2009 census figures. Population density is 14.5 inhabitants per square kilometre. The New Caledonian archipelago comprises many islands, but the main ones are:
The official language is French
There are also 29 native Melanesian languages. The latter are in keeping with a highly geographically-dispersed linguistic pattern as they are part of the Austronesian linguistic area and are thus close to Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Madagascar.
The various Melanesian languages can be divided into four groups: the North, the Centre, the South and the Loyalty Islands. The most widely spoken are Drehu and Nengone (in the Loyalty Islands), then Paici and Ajié (in the centre of the Mainland). Some of these languages are taught in schools.
As the vernacular is not a written language, the Kanak oral memory is conveyed by the spoken word. A vector for customary speech, it forms part of the social organization based on equal exchange.
The Melanesian community, representing 39% of the New Caledonian population, is very much in the majority in the Loyalty Islands Province (94%) and in the Northern Province (70.5%). 91.1% of the European community, which represents 27.2% of the New Caledonian population, lives in the Southern Province.
In the 2014 census, the distribution was as follows: