Posted by News Express | 4 November 2018 | 922 times
Final results showed that 56.4% chose to remain part of France while 43.6% voted to leave - a tighter result than some polls had predicted.
Turnout was about 81%. The vote was promised by a 1988 deal that put an end to a violent campaign for independence.
President Emmanuel Macron said it showed "confidence in the French republic".
"I have to tell you how proud I am that we have finally passed this historic step together," he added.
New Caledonia has large deposits of nickel, a vital component in manufacturing electronics, and is seen by France as a strategic political and economic asset in the region.
It is one of the UN's 17 "non-self governing territories" - where the process of decolonisation has not been completed.
About 175,000 people were eligible to vote in Sunday's referendum New Caledonia, east of Australia, where indigenous Kanaks make up 39.1% of the population.
French nationalism is strong among the territory's ethnic Europeans - constituting 27.1% of the population - and observers say even some Kanaks back staying part of France.
The remaining third of the population of New Caledonia's 268,000 inhabitants are also largely said to oppose independence. (BBC)
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