History of New Caledonia including French convict art:
New Caledonia ( Nouvelle-Calédonie) is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,200 kilometres east of Australia and 16,000 kilometres east of Paris. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grand Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Chesterfield islands, the Belap archipelago, and the Isle of Pines.
New Caledonia was first settled by the agricultural and seafaring Lapita people who were there as far back as 1350 BC. The Lapita are thought to be relatives of modern day Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians. The archaeological culture and its characteristic geometric dentate-stamped pottery are named after the type site where it was first uncovered in the Foué peninsula on Grande Terre, the main island of New Caledonia.
The indigenous Melanesian peoples of New Caledonia, “The Kanaks” have inhabited the islands for about 6,000 years, living in autonomous tribal groups in the narrow valleys between the mountains. Kanak society is organised around clans, which are both social and spatial units. The clan could initially be made up of people related through a common ancestor, comprising several families. There can be between fifty and several hundred people in a clan.