Australia has signed a deal with the US and UK for nuclear powered submarines. The deal has angered France immensely. Australia joined hands with the US, ending its deal with France, which the European country called a “hoax” and a “stab in the back”. Australia is joining hands with the US to challenge China’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific region. Even though the distance of this region from Paris is thousands of kilometers, but the difference between Australia and ‘France’ borders is only a few miles. Do you know that in the Indo-Pacific region, 16559 km from Paris, there is also a France, whose distance from Australia is only 3285 km. This island named New Caledonia is part of France and is a closer neighbor of Australia than America, so France’s displeasure is justified. Let us know what and where is France’s New Caledonia Island…
Looking at the geographical location, New Caledonia appears to be a deserted island located in the east of Australia, with no land around it. To its south is New Zealand, whose distance is 2384 kilometers from here. This island is located at a distance of more than 10 thousand km from India. Even after a distance of thousands of km from Paris, it is part of France and the official language here is French.
Kanak population is majority
Actually New Caledonia is an archipelago consisting of dozens of islands. Its area is spread over an area of 18,575 square kilometers. New Caledonia has seen deep divisions between its Kanak population and Europeans in the name of independence. Here the Kanakas represent 39 per cent of the population while the Europeans constitute 27 per cent while others prefer to identify as simply ‘Caledonian’.
Dependent on France for defense education
According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, New Caledonia has the highest per capita income in the region. New Caledonia is full of resources, containing about 10 percent of the world’s nickel reserves. The island group enjoys great autonomy but is largely dependent on France for many matters such as defense and education. After violence in the 1980s over the issue of independence, the ‘1998 Noumea Accord’ was signed. These agreements set a path for the autonomy of New Caledonia.
freedom of choice
The agreement allowed New Caledonia to hold three referendums on independence. The first referendum was held in November 2018 in which 81 per cent voter turnout was recorded. During this, the majority did not appear to be in favor of independence and 56.4 percent of the people rejected independence from France while 43.6% people did not vote in favor of it. According to the Lowy Institute, most of the Kanak population voted in favor of independence. At the same time, most of those who voted against independence were those whose ancestors lived in France. The think-tank said, ‘These results gave rise to ‘ethnic division’. Vote polarization on caste lines is a big challenge in the future.
China is spreading its feet on the island
In October 2020, New Caledonia voted again with 85.69 percent of the vote. This shows that the local people actively participate in the elections and are aware to determine their future. During this time 53.26 percent people rejected freedom while 46.74 percent people voted in support of it. China’s influence on this French island is gradually increasing. A large proportion of New Caledonia’s exports go to China, mostly nickel.
New Caledonia’s journey so far
The President of France is the head of state of New Caledonia while the head of government is Thierry Santa. Santa was elected in 2019 after two terms for Philippe Germain. Nationally, New Caledonia is represented in the French Parliament by two deputies and two senators. A look at the history and journey of New Caledonia
1774 : British explorer James Cook named this deserted island ‘New Caledonia’ after the Latin name of Scotland.
1853 : The French captured the island and used it as a penal colony. During this time the mining industry developed with the discovery of nickel reserves here.
1878 : The Kanakas revolted. There was a conflict between the French and the indigenous people over the possession of the land. After this, France started repressing more.
1980s: There was a fierce conflict between the French army and the Kanak separatists.
1988 : The Matignon Agreement led to a reconciliation between the European Community and Kanak, which proposed an end to direct rule from Paris and a vote on independence in 1998.
nineteen ninety eight : The Noumea Agreement set a deadline for the devolution of responsibilities to the island from France and postponed the 1998 referendum on independence.
2006 : The French parliament voted to restrict the voting rights of French citizens in the area, following a long-standing demand by Kanak.
2018 : Voters in New Caledonia rejected independence from France in a November referendum.
2020 : In October 2020, the majority once again rejected independence from France.