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Pacific Island Guide > New Caledonia
New Caledonia lies 930 miles off the northeast coast of Australia. The mountainous main island “Grand Terre” is the largest in the Pacific next to New Zealand and New Guinea. New Caledonia also includes these scattered islands:
- Loyalty Islands (pop. 22,000)
- Isle des Pines (pop. 1,800)
- Belep Archipelago (pop. 1,000),
- Chesterfield Group
- Huon Group
- Matthew (uninhabited and also claimed by Vanuatu)
- Hunter (uninhabited and also claimed by Vanuatu)
The estimated population in 1997 was 191,000.
French is the official language. Melanesian (a pidgin English) and 20 native languages as well as English are spoken.
There are 1,571 members of the LDS Church in New Caledonia, organized into 9 branches.
B.C. Kanak people arrive from Melanesia.
1775 British Captain Cook arrives and names it after the Scottish highlands. He estimates 70,000 Kanaks living there.
1825 Protestant London Missionary Society arrive.
1827 Dumont d’Urville explores the archipelago
1840 d’Urville maps the territory.
1843 French Catholic missionaries arrive. Tensions between French and British end with the French winning.
1853 By order of Napoleon III, Admiral Febvrier Despoite takes official possession for France.
1864 A French penal colony eis stablished. The Nickel mining industry begins.
1875 The copper mining industry begins.
1878 A Kanak revolt is put down by French colonizers.
1897 Penal colonists (20,000 of them) choose to remain and settle the islands.
1900 Kanaks are removed to reservations. Disease result in the reduction of the Kanak population to 27,000.
1950 Tahitian members of the LDS Church arrived to work in the nickel mines.
1951 France grants the Kanaks and French settlers the right to vote and allows Kanaks to move out of the reservations.
1957 New Caledonia becomes an overseas territory of France.
1967 Missionaries of the LDS Church arrive.
1985 Kanaks call for election right and referendum for independence. French colonists massacre Kanaky youth and maintain control over the islands.
1990s The Kanak people continue to hope for independence and the Kanaky name for the islands.
On the Internet, go to Familysearch.org. Choose the Library tab and then Family History Library Catalog. Click on Place. Enter New Caledonia and click on search.
Microfilm number 1083646 has civil registration from 1864 to 1880 for several of the islands. It is in the French language.
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