Loyalty Islands Province
|Native name: |
|Area||1,981 km2 (765 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||138 m (453 ft)|
|Overseas territory||New Caledonia|
|Languages||Loyalty Islands languages: Drehu, Iaai, Nengone|
|Ethnic groups||Predominantly Kanak and Tavu'avua'|
Loyalty Islands Province
Province des îles Loyauté
|• President||Néko Hnepeune (2014–2019)|
|• Kanak||96.6 %|
|• Wallisians and Futunans||0.1%|
The Loyalty Islands Province (French Province des îles Loyauté) is one of three administrative subdivisions of New Caledonia encompassing the Loyalty Islands (French: Îles Loyauté) archipelago in the Pacific 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 2014 population was approximately 18,297 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 from Norfolk Island to Batavia (now called Jakarta), in 1793. It is very likely, however, that the discovery and name goes back to 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 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%. Several thousand more Loyalty Islanders live on New Caledonia, especially in Nouméa, the capital, and in the mining areas of the main island. The chief export of the Loyalty Islands is copra.
The Loyalty Islands Province is divided into three communes (municipalities):
- Lifou (comprises Lifou Island, Tiga Island, and several islets)
- Maré (comprises Maré Island and Dudun Island)
- Ouvéa (comprises Ouvéa Island, Mouli Island, Faiava Island, and several additional islands and islets nearby)
- Walpole Island is geographically part of the Loyalty Islands, but administratively part of the commune of Île des Pins, South Province, New Caledonia.
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.
Presidents of Loyalty Province
- 1st Richard Kaloï 1989 to 1995
- 2nd Nidoïsh Naisseline July 14, 1995 to May 9, 1999
- 3rd Robert Xowie May 14, 1999 to May 9, 2004
- 4th Néko Hnepeune May 14, 2004 to current
- Dunbabin, Thomas: William Raven, RN, and his 'Britannia', 1792–95; in: The Mariner's mirror, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Nov.); London [u.a.] 1960 (S. 297-303)
- Dunmore, John: Who's who in Pacific navigation; Carlton, Vic. 1992
- Henze, Dietmar: Enzyklopädie der Entdecker und Erforscher der Erde, Bd. 4; Graz 2000
- Jones, A. G. E.: Ships employed in the South Seas trade Vol. 1: 1775 - 1861; Canberra 1986 & Vol. 2: 1775 - 1859; Burwood, Vic. 
- Parsons, Vivienne (1967). "Raven, William (1756–1814)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University.
- Riesenberg, Saul H.: Six Pacific island discoveries; in: The American Neptune, Vol. 34; Salem, Mass. 1974 (S. 249-57)
- Sharp, Andrew: The discovery of the Pacific Islands; Oxford 1960