Grande Terre (New Caledonia)

Grande Terre is the largest and principal island of New Caledonia, which is a territory of France.

Grande Terre
Newcaledonia tmo 2012268 lrg.jpg
A satellite photo of the island taken by Terra/MODIS (24 September 2012).
Grande Terre is located in New Caledonia
Grande Terre
Grande Terre
Grande Terre is located in Pacific Ocean
Grande Terre
Grande Terre
ArchipelagoNew Caledonia
Area16,372 km2 (6,321 sq mi)
TerritoryNew Caledonia
Largest settlementNouméa
LanguagesNew Caledonian languages, French


British explorer James Cook sighted Grande Terre in 1774 and named it "New Caledonia", Caledonia being the Latin name for what is now Scotland. The island's mountains reminded him of Scotland. Eventually, the name "New Caledonia" became applied to Grande Terre and its surrounding islands.

It was annexed by the French Empire and became a penal colony in 1853. Today, Grande Terre has about 268,000 residents.[1]


The largest settlement on Grande Terre is Nouméa, the capital city of New Caledonia. Locals refer to Grand Terre as "Le Caillou", the rock.[2] The island has a fairly hot and humid climate, though varying as the south-east trade winds bring relatively cool air. Surrounding the island and especially to the north-west is the New Caledonian barrier reef.

The island is located roughly 1,300 kilometres (810 mi; 700 nmi) east of Australia.[3] Grande Terre is oriented northwest-to-southeast; its area is 16,372 square kilometres (6,321 square miles). It is nearly 400 kilometres (250 miles) in length and 50–70 km (30–40 mi) wide in most places. A mountain range runs the length of the island, with five peaks over 1,500 metres (4,900 feet). The highest point is Mont Panié at 1,628 m (5,341 ft) elevation. Grande Terre is one of the largest islands in the Pacific Ocean.[4]


  1. ^ Tisdall, Nigel (2017-06-09). "New Caledonia: a slice of France in the South Pacific". Financial Times. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  2. ^ South Pacific handbook - David Stanley, p. 549, at Google Books
  3. ^ "Grande Terre". 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  4. ^ "Field Listing :: Geography - note — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved 2020-12-19.

Coordinates: 21°17′S 165°21′E / 21.283°S 165.350°E / -21.283; 165.350