This blog on New Caledonia is for those of you who ever wondered what life on a tiny island in the South Pacific might be like. Tired of bracing winter winds, the stress of an inner city or simply dreaming of a life change? This is a blog about what happens when, in the words of Yogi Berra, "you come to a fork in the road, [and] take it".

06 December 2005

A Country Thrice Divided

New Caledonia has three discernible populations (of a total of 230 789 inhabitants):

- The Kanak (or Kanaky), which are the country's indigenous peoples. As of 2005, the Kanak community represents 42.5% of the population. They are officially known as Melanesians.

- The Caldoche, which are the whites who have lived in New Caledonia for several generations. The Caldoche usually refer to themselves simply as "calédoniens" and may be either white (mostly French or German) or white with a mixture of Asian, Melanesian or Polynesian ancestry. Caldoche culture is said to have many similarities with Australian and Afrikaner culture.

- The Métros or Métropolitains, which are the newcomers who have immigrated from metropolitan France.

I have been thinking a lot about these three very separate groups this last week as I interact primarily with the Kanaks and the Métros and have had occasion to be involved in heated conversations about the driving forces in each population. I hope to address some of the tensions between the populations in the coming months - as I come to understand them - on this blog ...

As a start, I visited the Centre Culturel Tijbaou today - see - and got my first primer on some of the most important customs and traditions in the Kanak culture. More to follow!

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