Were Convicts or Miners The First Settlers In New Caledonia?

New Caledonia is a French colony that consists of about 25 islands in the South Pacific, some 750 miles off the coast of Australia.

Most of the islands are very small. The single large island, called New Caledonia, has an area of 6,530 square miles, about the same size as all the Hawaiian Islands put together.

In 1853, France took control of New Caledonia and set up a penal colony there. French convicts were sent there to serve their prison sentences. Until the 1890s, most of the Europeans on New Caledonia had come there as convicts.

Today, you’re more likely to find a miner in New Caledonia than a convict. Though only 220 miles long, this island produces more nickel than the entire United States!

New Caledonia was the world’s third largest producer of nickel, accounting for almost 15 percent of the world’s supply!