New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France. It is located in the subregion of Melanesia in the southwest Pacific. It comprises a main island (Grande Terre), the Loyalty Islands, and several smaller islands, all located on the Northernmost extremity of the mostly submerged Zealandia continent. It has a land area of 18,575.5 square kilometres (7,172 sq mi). The population was estimated in January 2009 to be 249,000. The capital and largest city of the territory is Nouméa. The currency is the CFP franc.
Since 1986 the United Nations Committee on Decolonization has included New Caledonia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. New Caledonia is set to decide whether to remain within the French Republic as an autonomous overseas collectivity or become an independent state in a referendum to be held between 2014 and 2019.
Nouméa, the capital, is also the seat of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (formerly the South Pacific Commission), an international organization.
In July 2010, New Caledonia adopted the Kanak flag, alongside the existing French tricolor, as the dual official flags of the territory. The adoption made New Caledonia one of the few countries or territories in the world with two official national flags.