Noumea centre 1402561139 375c811796 o.jpg
Location of the commune (in red)
within New Caledonia
Country France
Sui generis collectivity New Caledonia
Province South Province
(provincial seat)
Mayor Jean Lèques
Elevation 0–167 m (0–548 ft)
(avg. 20 m/66 ft)
Land area1 45.7 km2 (17.6 sq mi)
Population2 97,579  (2009 census)
 - Density 2,135 /km2 (5,530 /sq mi)
 - Ethnic distribution
  (1996 census)
Europeans 50.9%
Kanaks 22.9%
Polynesians 12.3%
Other 13.9%
INSEE/Postal code 98818/ 98800
1 New Caledonia Land Register (DITTT) data, which exclude lakes and ponds larger than 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) as well as the estuaries of rivers.
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Coordinates: 22°16′33″S 166°27′29″E / 22.2758°S 166.4580°E / -22.2758; 166.4580

Nouméa (French pronunciation: [numeˈa]) is the capital city of the French territory of New Caledonia. It is situated on a peninsula in the south of New Caledonia's main island, Grande Terre, and is home to the majority of the island's European, Polynesian (Wallisians, Futunians, Tahitians), Indonesian, and Vietnamese populations, as well as many Melanesians, Ni-Vanuatu and Kanaks that work in one of the South Pacific's most industrialised cities. The city lies on a protected deepwater harbour which serves as the chief port for New Caledonia.

The population of the city (commune) at the 2009 census was 97,579 inhabitants (up from 76,293 inhabitants at the 1996 census). Including the suburbs of Nouméa, the population of the Greater Nouméa metropolitan area (French: agglomération du Grand Nouméa) at the 2009 census was 163,723 inhabitants (up from 118,823 inhabitants in 1996, equating to a 2.4% population increase per year). 66.7% of the population of New Caledonia live in Greater Nouméa, which covers the communes of Nouméa, Le Mont-Dore, Dumbéa and Païta.



The first European to establish a settlement in the vicinity was British trader James Paddon in 1851. Anxious to assert control of the island, the French established a settlement nearby three years later in 1854, moving from Balade in the north of the island. This settlement was initially called Port-de-France and was renamed Nouméa in 1866. The area served first as a penal colony, later as a centre for the exploitation of the nickel and gold that was mined nearby.

During World War II, Nouméa served as the headquarters of the United States military in the South Pacific. The five-sided U.S. military headquarters complex was adopted after the war as the base for a new regional intergovernmental development organisation: the South Pacific Commission, later known as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

The city maintains much of New Caledonia's unique mix of French and old Melanesian culture. Even today the U.S. wartime military influence lingers, both in the warmth that many New Caledonian people feel towards the United States after experiencing the relative friendliness of American soldiers, and also in the names of several of the quarters in Nouméa. Districts such as "Receiving" and "Robinson", or even "Motor Pool", strike the anglophone ear strangely, until the historical context becomes clear.

References in Popular Culture

  • New Caledonia is the favorite liberty port in the Pacific of the crew of the PT-73 in the American television series, McHale's Navy.[1]


The city is situated on an irregular, hilly peninsula near the southeast end of New Caledonia, which is in the south-west Pacific Ocean.[citation needed]

Neighbourhoods of Nouméa include:[2]

  • Rivière-salée
  • 6e km, 7e km, Normandie, and Tina
  • Ducos peninsula:
    • Ducos, Ducos industriel, Kaméré, Koumourou, Logicoop, Numbo, Tindu
  • 4e Km, Aérodrome, Haut Magenta, Magenta, Ouémo, and Portes de fer
  • Faubourg Blanchot and Vallée des Colons
  • Doniambo, Montagne coupée, Montravel, and Vallée du tir
  • Artillerie Nord, Centre ville, Nouville, Quartier Latin, Vallée du Génie
  • Anse Vata, Artillerie Sud, Baie des Citrons, Motor Pool, N'géa, Orphelinat, Receiving, Trianon, and Val Plaisance

Faaa, the largest commune of nearby French Polynesia, is located not too far away.


Historical population

1956 1963 1969 1976 1983 1989 1996 2009
Nouméa (commune) 22,235 34,990 41,853 56,078 60,112 65,110 76,293 97,579
Greater Nouméa 25,204 39,996 50,488 74,335 85,098 97,581 118,823 163,723
Official figures from population censuses.[3][4]


Noumea features a tropical wet and dry climate with hot summers and warm winters. Temperatures are warmer in the months of January, February and March with average highs hovering around 30 degrees Celsius and cooler during the months of July and August where average high temperatures are around 23 degrees Celsius. The capital’s dry season months are September and October. The rest of the year is noticeably wetter. Noumea on average receives roughly 1100 mm of precipitation annually.

Climate data for Noumea, New Caledonia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 28.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 26.0
Average low °C (°F) 23.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 112.9
Avg. precipitation days 14.2 14.2 17.1 15.0 16.8 17.3 15.9 13.1 9.6 9.3 10.3 11.3 164.1
Sunshine hours 232.5 209.0 201.5 198.0 176.7 156.0 182.9 201.5 222.0 251.1 249.0 260.4 2,540.6
Source: Hong Kong Observatory,[5]


Head office of Aircalin

Nouméa is the most "westernised" city in the Pacific Islands region,[citation needed] and is a complete contrast to the rest of New Caledonia's wide open spaces, bare jagged hills, and largely Kanak population (although there also exist important concentrations of Europeans on the north-western coast of New Caledonia's mainland, particularly around Bourail, Pouembout, and Koumac).

Although Nouméa has more sunshine days than any other Pacific Island capital, and some excellent beaches not far from the city centre, it is not currently a major tourist destination. The cost of living is high, and there is no cheap air travel from the Pacific Rim.[citation needed]

Nouméa is, as of 2007, one of the most rapidly growing cities in the Pacific, and has experienced a major housing construction boom within the past decade. The installation of amenities has kept pace, and the municipality boasts a public works programme. Much of this construction is apparently fuelled by investment from France. It is the hope of the government that this investment, over the lifetime of the multi-decade track towards increasing autonomy planned under the Matignon Agreements and now the Nouméa Accord, will eventually become fully sustainable.[citation needed]

Aircalin, the international airline of New Caledonia,[6] and Air Calédonie (Aircal), the domestic airline, have their headquarters in the city.[7] Aircal's headquarters are on the grounds of Magenta Airport.[8] IBM has an office in Nouméa.[9]


Nouméa Magenta Airport, within the city, serves local routes. Nouméa's international airport is La Tontouta International Airport, 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the city.


The Bibliothèque Bernheim ("Bernheim Library") is located in Nouméa.[10]

Sister cities



  1. ^
  2. ^ "Les quartiers." Nouméa. Retrieved on 12 February 2011.
  3. ^ SPLAF Agglomérations et villes de la Nouvelle-Calédonie
  4. ^ Population des communes de Nouvelle-Calédonie en 2009
  5. ^ "Climatological Information for Noumea, New Caledonia". Hong Kong Observatory. 
  6. ^ "Contact Us." Aircalin. Retrieved on 2 October 2009.
  7. ^ "AIR CALÉDONIE CONTACTS." Air Calédonie. Retrieved on 2 October 2009.
  8. ^ "Renouvellement de Carte Résident." Air Calédonie. Retrieved on 8 October 2009.
  9. ^ "IBM New Caledonia." IBM. Retrieved on 21 October 2009.
  10. ^ "coordonnées & horaires." Bibliothèque Bernheim. Retrieved on 12 February 2011.

External links

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