NEW CALEDONIA

Country Description: New Caledonia is a French overseas territory, consisting of the large island of New Caledonia and several smaller island groups, located in the South Pacific near Australia. New Caledonia's moderately developed economy is based on mining. Tourist facilities are concentrated on the island of New Caledonia, but are available in some of the smaller island groups.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: For information about entry requirements, travelers and particularly those planning on entering by sailing vessel, may contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202)944-6000. Travelers may also wish to obtain a visa for Australia (see section on medical facilities) before leaving the United States. Contact the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C., at 1-800-242-2878 for further information.

Medical Facilities: Medical treatment on the main island is generally good, but is more limited on the remote outer islands. The Centre Hospitalier Territorial in Noumea provides emergency and outpatient services, as does the smaller Centre Hospitalier Territorial in Koumac on the other side of the main island. Medical services in the remainder of the country are limited. Patients with more serious illnesses are often referred to Noumea or to Australia for treatment. Travelers who anticipate the need for on-going medical treatment should consider obtaining a visa for Australia before leaving the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payments for health services. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside of the United States. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance which specifically covers treatment in Australia and New Caledonia and includes a provision for medical evacuation may prove useful. Information on health matters may also be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559 or via the CDC home page on the Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/.

Information on Crime and Safety: The crime rate in New Caledonia is low, but petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, does occur. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad". It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and do not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Road Safety: Roads are generally well maintained except in remote areas. Animals and unwary pedestrians walking in the road make night driving on unlit secondary roads hazardous.

Registration/Embassy Location: There is no U.S. embassy or consulate in New Caledonia. U.S. citizens living in or visiting New Caledonia are encouraged to register in person or via telephone with the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, whose consular district includes the French Overseas Territory of New Caledonia. They may also obtain updated information on travel and security within the country from the U.S. Embassy. Given the distance between Fiji and New Caledonia, the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide on-the-spot service is limited. The U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji is located at 31 Loftus Street, Suva, Fiji; telephone (679) 314-466; fax (679) 300-081.

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