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New Caledonia Information - Page 1
Geography
The Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies is a territorial collectivity of France in Oceania, east of Australia. It consists of the main island, known as Grande Terre, the Isle of Pines, the Loyalty Islands and a number of small islands.

Noumea is the capital of New Caledonia.

The main island has coastal plains with mountains in the interior. The Diahot is the longest river.

New Caledonia's climate is tropical.

Environment
Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia, was part of the giant continent of Gondwana which started to break apart over one hundred million years ago. New Zealand and New Caledonia separated from Australia, and New Caledonia eventually broke away from New Zealand. Thus the plants and wildlife of New Caledonia have evolved in isolation.

Pine trees found on the Isle of Pines are an ancient species of tree. Other flora in New Caledonia includes the giant houp tree and a large tree fern.

The emblem of New Caledonia is the cagou, a flightless bird. A cagou breeding programme was initiated in the Blue River Provincial Park in 1980.

Grande Terre and the Isle of Pines are surrounded by a coral reef (1,600 km). The Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems were added to the World Heritage List in 2008.

Architecture
Noumea, founded by the French, is the only large city in New Caledonia. Although a modern city, some Colonial buildings can still be found in Noumea. These include the Cathedral and the former Town Hall (now the City of Noumea Museum).

Traditional Kanak buildings can be seen in the Loyalty Islands. Today there is a movement to revive traditional architecture.

The design of the Tjibaou Culture Centre, opened in 1998, was influenced by Kanak architecture.

Population
The population of New Caledonia was 256,275 in 2011.

Languages
French is the official language. A number of Melanesian-Polynesian dialects are spoken. English is widely used in tourist areas.

Religion
Sixty percent of the people of New Caledonia are Roman Catholic and thirty percent are Protestant.

Food
A variety of international cuisines can be found in Noumea - these include French, Italian, Japanese and Indonesian.

Traditional Kanak foods are bananas, sweet potatoes, yams and taro. Today rice is a staple food.

A traditional method of cooking is steaming in an oven of hot stones. Fish, meat and vegetables, wrapped in banana leaves, are cooked in this way on special occasions.

Tropical fruits available are bananas, coconuts, custard apples, mangoes, papayas and passion fruit.

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