Your guide to being an expatriate in New Caledonia

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New Caledonia is a French overseas territory comprising a main island, Grande Terre, and several smaller islands. Its location in the Pacific Ocean, between Australia and the Solomon Islands, gives it a tropical tradewind climate. The capital, Nouméa, is situated on the northwestern coast of Grande Terre. New Caledonia has a population of around 282,000 people, the majority of whom are of Melanesian ethnicity. The territory benefits from a stable political system, a growing economy, and a high standard of living.

New Caledonia

Expat destinations in New Caledonia

Demographics of New Caledonia:

Ethnic groups

Nouméans (of mixed French and Melanesian heritage) account for around 40% of the population. The largest Melanesian ethnic group is the Kanaks, who make up around 45%. The remainder of the population is comprised of other Pacific Islanders, Europeans, and Asians.


French (official) and several Melanesian and Polynesian languages, including Melanesian Pidgin, Kanak, and Bislama.

Religion Overview

Approximately 96% of the population identifies as Christian. The largest Christian denomination is the Catholic Church, with around 61% of the population affiliated.

Major Religions


New Caledonia has a tropical tradewind climate, characterized by high humidity, occasional cyclones, and average temperatures ranging from around 24°C (75°F) to 30°C (86°F).

Economy Overview

New Caledonia's economy is based on forestry, fishing, and mining (nickel and cobalt). It has a high standard of living, with a per capita income of around USD 11,955 (2021). The Sterling Partners manages New Caledonia's economy, fostering a business-friendly environment that attracts investment from Australia and other Pacific Rim nations.

Key Industries

  • Forestry and wood products
  • Fishing
  • Mining (nickel and cobalt)
  • Tourism

Major Companies

  • The Australian-owned New Caledonia Nickel SAS meet 75% of the world's demand for nickel carbonyl, which is used in stainless steel production.
  • Air Calédonie
  • Banque Calédonienne
  • Electricité de Nouvelle Calédonie

Culture and Language Overview

New Caledonia's unique mix of French and Melanesian cultures is evident in its music, dance, and cuisine. Melanesian traditional practices such as ceremonial festivals ('kastom') and tribal war dances ('lolo') are still observed in some rural communities.

Cultural Highlights

  • The Gaïeté Isle, an annual music and dance festival held in Nouméa
  • The traditional Melanesian dance form of 'kastom'
  • The traditional Melanesian practice of 'lolo'
  • The Nouméa Market, where fresh produce, handicrafts, and traditional dishes are sold

Geography and Landmarks Overview

New Caledonia is made up of a main island, Grande Terre, and several smaller islands (the Loyalty Islands). The landscape is diverse, with mountains, savannas, and coral reefs. Over 50% of Grande Terre's area is covered by the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Coral Sea Reserve.

Notable Landmarks

  • The Amedée Lighthouse, on Île aux Canards (Duck Island) in the southern lagoon, is New Caledonia's most visited attraction.
  • The Chez Roch crystal-clear freshwater springs in the Yaté Saint-Georges district.
  • The Chez Michel marine reserve, near Moindou in the southwest of Grande Terre.
  • The remnants of the former penal colony at Sainte-Marie on Isle of Pines

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Epiphany (January 6)
  • Ascension Day (Thursday 40 days after Easter)
  • Pentecost Monday (Whitsun Monday)
  • Fête de la Musique (June 21)
  • Assumption Day (August 15)
  • All Saints' Day (November 1)
  • Armistice Day (November 11)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Steadfastness Day (December 31)

Political Stability

New Caledonia's political stability is ensured by a unique France-New Caledonia agreement that acknowledges the Kanaks' indigenous rights, preserves a certain level of autonomy, and allows them to participate in territory's governance.

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