New Caledonia's French overseas territory holds a referendum France It started. Nearly 175,000 voters can vote for the entire sovereignty and independence of the region. Surveys suggest that 60-69 percent of voters are expected to maintain the status quo.
Opponents of independence point to France's financial support – about € 1.3 billion a year. They are afraid of economic disadvantages when their relations with France are cut off. The supporters of independence mainly live in the Kanak, who account for 40% of the population. Approximately 27 percent of the population are of European origin. The rest of the population comes from Asian countries or other Pacific islands.
Thirty years ago, there was a violent conflict on independence. During the hostage of the Ouvé Island in 1987, members of the Independence Movement were caught by about 30 gendarmes. In 1987, 98 percent voted for a referendum to become part of France. But the vote was boycotted by Kanak's independence movement. The 1998 Noumea Agreement should result in a compromise agreement. After the referendum on Sunday, the treaty provides another two additional possibilities by 2022 if voters vote against independence.
The archipelago relies entirely on France in defense, law enforcement, foreign affairs, justice and education, but enjoys broad autonomy. New Caledonia is a member of the French National Assembly and is an associated area of the European Union. Residents can vote in European elections. The currency is not the euro, but the Pacific franc.
The islands are about 1200 km east of Australia in the southwest of the Pacific. The area, nowadays about 270,000 inhabitants, was taken over by France in 1853. New Caledonia is around one quarter of the world's nickel resources. Nickel is an important raw material for the manufacture of electronic devices.
The area is also geostrategic: Critics of independence suggest that China can increase its influence in the region when France retires.