New Caledonia (called Balacle by the natives), an island of Australasia belonging to France, in the S. Pacific, between lat. 20° and 22° 30' S., and Ion. 164° and 167° E.; length from N. W. to S. E. 240 m., average breadth 28 m.; area, 6,769 sq. m.; pop. estimated at from 45,000 to 75,000. It is surrounded by dangerous rocks, sand banks, and coral reefs, and is accessible by only a few channels. It has several bays where ships may anchor near the shore, besides which there are secure harbors at Port Balade on the N. E. part of the islands and Port St. Vincent on the S. W. The interior is occupied principally by barren mountains, rising in some places to a height of about 6,000 ft., and abounding in granite, quartz, mica, steatite, and green amphibole. Coal, nickel, and iron, are found; copper is plentiful at Balade; and in 1871 a gold mine was discovered, which soon attracted a number of Australian and Cali-fornian diggers. A few fertile valleys are interspersed, in which grow the cocoanut, banana, taro, mango, breadfruit, and yam. The sugar cane is of excellent quality and is much cultivated. There are many large and well watered plains which afford excellent pasturage. Sandal wood was formerly plentiful, but the supply is now nearly exhausted.
Tripang is found in the surrounding waters. The natives resemble the Papuan or negrito race, and speak a language kindred with the Australian tongues. They belong to different tribes, most of which are described as hospitable and honest. Cannibalism, which formerly existed, has entirely ceased. They are well formed, tall, and robust, but indolent. Their skin is deep black, and their hair coarse and bushy. They are fond of painting their faces, and even in settlements they wear but few garments. Their huts, built of spars and reeds, thatched with bark, and entered by a very small opening, bear some resemblance to beehives. The chief articles of food are yams and fish. - New Caledonia was discovered by Capt. Cook in 1774, and visited by D'Entrecasteaux in 1792. A settlement of Europeans at Balade was attacked by the natives in 1849, and several of the settlers were killed. The same year the captain and cook of the ship Mary were killed and eaten. The French took possession of the island in September, 1853, and established on it a station for their Pacific squadron and a penal colony.
In 1870 the number of colonists in the territory subject to the governor of New Caledonia, which also comprises the Loyalty islands and the island of Kunie or Isle des Pins, was 1,562; public functionaries, 289; troops, 754; immigrants, 1,176; non-political convicts, 2,302; political convicts, about 4,000. Numea, on Numea bay, near the S. W. extremity of the island, is the seat of the governor. The French have been repeatedly at war with the islanders, but hostilities were closed in 1857, when the most troublesome chief was made prisoner. French missionaries have made several prosperous settlements, and, cultivate plantations. They have introduced a variety of vegetables and fruits, including wheat and barley, and have been very successful in raising live stock. The number of the islanders who have embraced Christianity is estimated at about 5,000. They are found to be industrious and averse to drunkenness. The imports of the entire dependency were in 1870 valued at 3,249,182 francs, the exports at 203,650. The entrances into the ports were 10 French and 70 foreign vessels, the clearances 10 French and 77 foreign vessels. In 1872 the national assembly of France resolved to deport the communists to the peninsula of Ducos, and to allow them to engage in agriculture.
Among them was Rochefort, who escaped in 1874.
Numea, New Caledonia.