New Caledonia’s capital and largest city is Nouméa which is located on a hilly peninsula on the southern portion of the region’s main island, Grande Terre. The city was initially settled in 1851 by James Paddon, a trader from Britain. Soon afterwards the French set up a settlement of their own, calling it Port-de-France, before being renaming it Nouméa in 1866. Throughout its history the city has served many functions including acting as a penal colony, U.S. military headquarters during World War II, and finally in its present capacity as the island’s administrative capital.

According to figures from 2015 Nouméa is home to 100,237 residents. With a total area of 17.6 square miles the city’s metropolitan population density stands at 5,700 people per square mile. Nouméa’s 634 square mile urban area contains approximately 179,509 people with a density of 280 citizens per square mile. Greater Nouméa’s urban area is divided up into four communes; Nouméa, Dumbéa, Le Mont-Dore, and the suburb of Païta.

Nouméa is the site of numerous tourist attractions including the Aquarium des Lagons Nouvelle Caledonie, a large aquarium which features fresh water fish, fluorescent corals, exotic sea creatures like the chambered nautilus, and an assortment of entertaining and educational exhibits and activities for the whole family. Other popular attractions include the Tjibaou Cultural Center which is a museum that features unique native artifacts, exhibits, and archives.

Nouméa’s climate can be classified as being tropical with characteristically warm winter temperatures and hot summers. The city experiences its annual dry season during the months of September through to October. For the remainder of the year Nouméa averages about 43 inches of rainfall on an annual basis. Temperatures during the first six months of the year typically fall between 70F and 79F while the remainder of the year sees conditions ranging between 68F and 77F.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018