The centres of population are Noumea (Numea), the capital, on a fine harbour of the west coast near the southern extremity of the island, with 7000 inhabitants; Bourail, an agricultural penitentiary (1800); La Foa, in the centre of the coffee plantations; Moindu, St Louis and St Vincent.
Noumea is the seat of a superior tribunal, a tribunal of first instance, and a tribunal of commerce.
Noumea alone has (since 1879) a municipality, other localities being administered by commissions.
Coal has been worked near Noumea, and kaolin is found in places.
The chief industrial establishments are smelting furnaces for cobalt, meat-preserving works at Ouaco, sugar-works and distilleries at Noumea and La Foa, tobacco, oil and soap factories at Noumea.