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New Caledonia

Surrounded by a 1,600km- (1,000 mile-) long coral reef, New Caledonia also boasts the largest lagoon in the world. The reef can be as close as a few kilometres from the coast in some places and as far as 65km (41 miles) in others - with an average depth of 40m (131ft). Unlike its volcanic neighbours, New Caledonia is a fragment of an ancient continent which drifted away some 250 million years ago. Its flora and fauna evolved in isolation, and are now quite unique: 3,500 recorded species of plants, three quarters of which occur only here; 4,300 species of land animals, 1,000 species of fish and 6,500 species of marine invertebrates.

Practical Information

Area: 18 575 km² (7 172 miles²)

Capital: Nouméa. Population: 91 396

Population: 236,528

Currency: French Pacific Franc (XPF)

Government: French Overseas Territory since 1957.

Tipping: There is no tipping.

Time zone: GMT + 11

Languages: French

Additional descriptions

New Caledonia: Social customs

There is a casual atmosphere, and local traditions still prevail alongside European customs. Casual wear is the norm, but smart restaurants require a more formal style of dress. Long trousers are requiredRead more for men at night in restaurants and casinos.

New Caledonia: Food and local specialties

The choice of eating places and food on New Caledonia is excellent, costs vary from moderate to expensive. Gourmet restaurants and bistros serve African, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Italian and SpanishRead more cooking. The national specialties are: Pacific spiny lobsters, prawns, crabs or mangrove oysters and salads of raw fish (marinated in lime juice). An island speciality is bougna: fish or chicken wrapped in banana leaves and cooked on hot stones covered with sand. First-class delicatessens and grocers in Nouméa and at Anse Vata Beach provide a wide choice of picnic fare. There is a good selection of French wine available.

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