New Caledonia sits in the south-west corner of a collection of thousands of islands that lie scattered across the southern half of the Pacific Ocean.
Known as the Pacific Islands, this collection of atolls, reefs and parts of the continental shelf are occupied by a number of nations.
Fiji, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati are some of the more well known island nations in the Pacific.
However, New Caledonia is different to many of these islands: unlike the thousands of volcanic islands, New Caledonia is actually a piece of continent which fragmented nearly 65 million years ago.
During this time, tectonic forces tugged New Caledonia in a north-east direction from a much larger content called Gondwana, creating the archipelago of micro-continental islands which exist today.
The new continent which was created, known as Zealandia, or the New Zealand Continent, is largely submerged under the
Pacific, with only a few chunks of lands poking through, including New Caledonia.
This geological history has influenced the nation’s current shape, the distribution of humans and major cities across the island and to some extent its history.
The main island of New Caledonia, Grande Terre, lies diagonally, running from north-west to south-east and is the most populated and culturally mixed of the islands.
The island has a long spine of mountains which are blanketed in a tropical broadleaf forest.
For example, due to its size and position near other major nations, as well as its vast nickel reserves, the island was used as an important strategic base by the Allies during Pacific conflicts of WWII.
However, the more remote regions such as the Chesterfield Islands, Belep Archipelago, Loyalty Islands and L'Île-des-Pins are populated by the indigenous Kanak population.
The outer-lying regions are also home to stunning reefs and white beaches which make them very popular with tourists.