New Caledonians are a unique blend of French, Kanak, Polynesian and Asian people living side by side and blending together to create a culture like no other. The population breaks down as follows: Melanesian 42.5%, European 37.1%, Wallisian 8.4%, Polynesian 3.8%, Indonesian 3.6%, Vietnamese 1.6%, other 3%.
The French of New Caledonia live mainly in Noumea and their influence can be seen in the architecture, food, and shops. Whites whose family lineage is linked to New Caledonia for more than one generation are known as "Caldoches". Other whites usually arrive for work or to retire.
Outside of Noumea, the indigenous Melanesians known as Kanaks, still live according to their culture, although there are French influences. They live in all areas of New Caledonia and their culture has best been preserved in the Loyalty Islands due to being isolated from the main island, Grande Terre. Consequently, they became native reservations allowing Loyalty islanders to live their traditional Kanak lifestyle, even to this day.
Polynesians arrived in New Caledonia about the 11th century CE onward. They mixed with the Melanesians and introduced their survival skills and art to the Kanak culture.
Author & photographer: David Johnson (Virtual New Caledonia). Providing a credit or link is appreciated.
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