New Caledonia is a French overseas country with a system of government based on parliamentarism and representative democracy. The President of the Government is the head of government, and there is a multi-party system, with Executive power being exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress of New Caledonia. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
At the last census in 2014 New Caledonia had a population of 268,767. Of these, 17,436 live in the Loyalty Islands Province, 45,137 in the North Province, and 183,007 in the South Province. Population growth has slowed down since the 1990s, but remains strong with a yearly increase of 1.7% between 1996 and 2009.
New Caledonia is part of Zealandia, a fragment of the ancient Gondwana super-continent. Zealandia separated from Australia 60–85 million years ago. It is speculated that New Caledonia separated from Australia roughly 66 million years ago, subsequently drifting in a north-easterly direction, reaching its present position about 50 million years ago.