Loyalty Islands Province
Province des îles Loyauté
Map of Loyalty Islands and New Caledonia
|o President||Jacques Lalié|
|Ethnic Groups (2014)|
|o Wallisians and Futunans||0.15%|
|Languages||Drehu, Iaai, Nengone|
The Loyalty Islands Province (French Province des îles Loyauté) is one of three administrative subdivisions of New Caledonia encompassing the Loyalty Island (French: Îles Loyauté) archipelago in the Pacific, which are located northeast of the New Caledonian mainland of Grande Terre.
The provincial government seat is part of the French territory of New Caledonia, at Lifou, which is 100 kilometres (62 mi) away. The Loyalty Islands are a collectivité territoriale of France. The province's 2019 population was approximately 18,353 inhabitants living on almost 2,000 square kilometres (770 sq mi). The native inhabitants are the Kanak and the Tavu'avua' peoples.
The first Western contact on record is attributed to British Captain William Raven of the whaler Britannia, who was on his way in 1793 from Norfolk Island to Batavia (now called Jakarta). It is very likely, however, that the discovery and name originated with officials on the London ship Loyalty, which was on a Pacific Ocean trading voyage from 1789 to 1790.
The archipelago consists of six inhabited islands: Lifou Island, Maré Island, Tiga Island, Ouvéa Island, Mouli Island, and Faiava Island, as well as several smaller uninhabited islands and islets. Their combined land area is 1,981 km2 (765 sq mi). The highest elevation is at 138 m (453 ft) above sea level on Maré Island. The islands are part of the New Caledonia rain forests ecoregion. The chief export of the Loyalty Islands is copra. There is mining on the main island, Grand Terre.
The people of the Loyalty Islands are of mixed Melanesian and Polynesian ancestry, with a small European minority. The population numbered 17,436 in the 2009 census, a 7.9% reduction from the 22,080 in the preceding 2004 census. In 2014 the population grew to 18,297, an increase of 4.9%, and in 2019 the population grew a further 0.1% to 18,353.
Several thousand more Loyalty Islanders live on New Caledonia, especially in Nouméa, the capital, and in the mining areas of the main island.
The Loyalty Islands Province is divided into three communes (municipalities):
As of 2018, there are 14 seats in the province's congress held by six parties: the nationalist Caledonian Union holds four, the anti-independence Rally for Caledonia in the Republic holds two, and the National Union for Independence-Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front, Socialist Kanak Liberation, Renewed Caledonian Union and Union of Pro-Independence Co-operation Committees each have two.