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New Caledonia is a French semi-autonomous overseas "collectivité" located in the South Pacific.

It is part of the Melanesian region. Its official language is French; each ethnic group, however, has its own language.

This small island in the Pacific Ocean, nicknamed the "caillou" (stone), is the third most-important island in the South Pacifc.

The archipelago includes the main island, known as the "Grande Terre", which is 400km long and 50kms wide; twice the size of Corsica.
To the east of the "Grande Terre" are the four Loyalty Islands: Ouvéa, Lifou, Tiga and Maré.

Also included are the archipelago are the Belep islands to the north, the Isle of Pines in the south and several remote small islets.

New Caledonia's current government systems and structures have been in place since the Matignon Accords were signed on 9 November 1988.

There are three Provinces in New Caledonia, each governed by democratically-elected Provincial Assemblies.

Elected members of the three Provincial Assemblies make up the Congress.

The Northern Province

Composed of communities in the north of the "Grande Terre", together with the Belep archipelago, 21% (41,413 inhabitants) of the New Caledonia population lives in the Northern Province.

The Southern Province

Composed of communities in the south of the "Grande Terre", together with the Isle of Pines, the Southern Province is the most highly-populated of the three Provinces. 68.4% (134,546 inhabitants) of the total population lives here, with Noumea, the capital, attracting the highest proportion.

The Loyalty Islands Province

This Province is composed of Maré, Lifou, Ouvéa and Tiga islands.
The mainly Kanak population of just 20,877 is spread throughout the different islands.
 

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