New Caledonia is an overseas French collectivity in the southwest Pacific Ocean, south of Vanuatu, some 1,210 kilometers (750 miles) east of Australia, and 17,000 kilometers (11,000 miles) from Metropolitan France. The archipelago contains the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of Pines, and a few distant islands. It is part of the Melanesia subregion. Chesterfield Islands are located in the Coral Sea. The French, particularly the inhabitants, refer to Grande Terre as "Le Caillou" ("the pebble").
New Caledonia is split into three provinces and has a total land area of 18,576 km2 (7,172 sq mi). The North and South Provinces are on the mainland of New Caledonia, while the Loyalty Islands Province is a group of islands off the coast. New Caledonia's population of 271,407 (October 2019 census) is of diverse origins and varies by geography; the indigenous Kanak people predominate in the North and Loyalty Islands Provinces, whereas the wealthy South Province contains significant populations of European (Caldoches and Metropolitan French), Kanak, and Polynesian (mostly Wallisian) origin, as well as smaller groups of Southeast Asian, Pied-Noir, and North African heritage. Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia.