Loyalty Islands Province

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Loyalty Islands Province
Province des îles Loyauté
Flag of Loyalty Islands Province
New Caledonia administrative1.png
  Location of Loyalty Islands Province in New Caledonia
Coordinates: 21°04′S 167°21′E / 21.067°S 167.350°E / -21.067; 167.350Coordinates: 21°04′S 167°21′E / 21.067°S 167.350°E / -21.067; 167.350
CollectivityNew Caledonia
Seat (Lifou)
 • PresidentJacques Lalié
 • Total1,980.9 km2 (764.8 sq mi)
 • Total18,353
 • Density9.3/km2 (24/sq mi)
Ethnic Groups (2019)
 • Kanak94.63%
 • Multiracial2%
 • European1.74%
 • Ni-Vanuatu0.09%
 • Wallisians and Futunans0.08%
 • Indonesians0.05%
 • Other Asian0.02%
 • Tahitians0.01%
 • Vietnamese0.01%
 • Other1.38%
LanguagesDrehu, 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 (55 nautical miles) 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 km2 (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.[citation needed]

The French Government demanded the removal of missionaries from the London Missionary Society led by Rev. Samuel Macfarlane[1][2] from the Loyalty Islands and New Caledonia in 1869. This led to the missionaries travelling to the Torres Strait Islands on the vessel Surprise, in an event still celebrated as "The Coming of the Light", on 1 July 1871.[3][4][5][6]


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.

An earthquake of moment magnitude 7.7 was reported just after midnight on 11 February 2021 in an area south-east of the islands, with several aftershocks.[7] Over 50 quakes of magnitude greater than 4.5 were recorded in less than 24 hours.


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.[8][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 Loyalty Islands Province is divided into three communes (municipalities):

Provincial congress[edit]

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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gibbney, H. J. (1974). "Samuel Macfarlane". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Retrieved 3 August 2021. This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974
  2. ^ Hammond, Philip (30 June 2011). "Performers mark Coming of the Light". The Courier Mail. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  3. ^ "All Saints Anglican Church (entry 600873)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Dated 20 January 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  4. ^ Willis, Carli (26 July 2021). "Zulai Wan marks an encounter 150 years ago that changed Torres Strait Islanders' lives forever". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 31 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Missionary Ships". Shipping Wonders of the World (Part 51). 26 January 1937. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  6. ^ "The Coming of the Light". Anglican Board of Mission. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  7. ^ "M 7.7 - southeast of the Loyalty Islands". www.usgs.gov. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Population Structure and Trends". Institute de la Statistique et des études économiques Nouvelle-Calédonie (in French). Institute de la Statistique et des études économiques Nouvelle-Calédonie. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  9. ^ "ISEE - Population 2009". Archived from the original on 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2015-07-24.


  • 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. [1992]
  • Parsons, Vivienne (1967). "Raven, William (1756–1814)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538 – via National Centre of Biography, 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