Surrounded by the vast expanse of the South Pacific, New Caledonia, with a surface area of 18,564 km², lies to the east of Australia and south of the thousands of islands and archipelagos making up Melanesia and Micronesia. The country boasts an amazing diversity of landscapes.
- The range of mountains
- The West coast
- The East coast
- The barrier reef
- The Great South
- The islands
The Main Island resembles a long tongue of land bisected by a range of mountains running from north to south and rising to two high peaks: Mont Panié (1,628 m) in the North-East and Mont Humboldt (1,618 m) in the South-West.
To the West, the vegetation is tinged with hues of yellow and brown (savannah, niaouli trees), while the more “tropical” East Coast is clothed in the darker green of dense, lush vegetation.
The endless ribbon of the barrier reef encircles the entire Main Island in an almost unbroken line, at a distance of a few nautical miles from the coast. The 1,600 km long barrier reef, the second longest in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, shelters a lagoon covering a total area of 24,000 km², of which 15,000 km² are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Peridotite masses covered by thick mineral-rich lateritic mantles extend over large areas of the Main Island’s 16,500 km². The fiery red lateritic soil is the source of New Caledonia’s wealth of nickel ore.
To the East, four islands form the Loyalty Islands group: Lifou, Maré, Tiga and Ouvéa. Together with the Isle of Pines to the south, they are perfect island jewels. These are the islands best known to tourists but hundreds of other islands and islets lie dotted around the coastline of New Caledonia.