NEW CALEDONIA: New Caledonia and the Kanaké. Part 1

By Heiko Bleher

It was on Sunday 4 September, 1774, after an odyssey lasting over two years, that Captain James Cook and the crew of the Resolution discovered a new island while searching for New Zealand. The last undiscovered large island in the Pacific – almost incredible that this more than 400 km long and about 70 km wide piece of land, with several smaller islands offshore, could have remained unknown even though Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch, and French navigators had been voyaging the vast Pacific for almost two centuries. After a 30-day visit Cook decided – as he had already done with other newly-discovered regions such as New South Wales and the New Hebrides (today Vanuatu)  – to name the island after a part of the Great Britain. He called it New Scotland, but, remembering that there was already an island of that name in the North Atlantic, he used the Latin form of the name instead. And ever since then the archipelago has been known as New Caledonia…

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