The Pacific Ocean.
New Caledonia, a special collectivity of France, is an archipelago located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Its position in the Pacific makes it one of the many islands and groups of islands that sprinkle this vast body of water, which covers more than 60 million square miles and is the largest and deepest of the world’s five oceans.
New Caledonia comprises a main island, Grande Terre, and several smaller islands, including the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep Archipelago, and the Isle of Pines. The capital city, Nouméa, situated on Grande Terre, is the largest city and the economic and political center of New Caledonia.
The Pacific Ocean has played a significant role in shaping New Caledonia’s ecology, culture, and history. From an ecological standpoint, the region is renowned for its rich biodiversity. The coral reefs surrounding New Caledonia are among the world’s most diverse, leading to the region’s classification as a UNESCO World Heritage site. These reefs form a part of the larger Coral Sea, which lies to the east of the island.
Historically, the Pacific Ocean has facilitated migrations and interactions of various groups of people. The original inhabitants of New Caledonia, the Kanak people, are believed to have settled the islands about 3,000 years ago, navigating the Pacific waters in their outrigger canoes.
In more recent history, European exploration in the 18th century brought New Caledonia to the attention of the wider world. The French formally annexed it in the mid-19th century, making it a part of their expanding colonial empire in the Pacific.
Today, the Pacific Ocean continues to influence New Caledonia’s economy, especially through tourism and marine resources, and plays a central role in the identity and daily life of its inhabitants.