Before James Cook arrived in 1774, in New Caledonia, there were about 300 Kanak clans on the island. Then, he re-named the big island to pay homage to Scotland. It soon went into French hands and is still an important maritime port.
The ancient Civilization – The Melanesian people met with a major decline. Innumerous signs (cave engravings, with symbolic and geometrical forms) are found near Poya and reveals a very old Melanesian presence. More recently, huge ore deposits have been discovered (nickel). Nowadays, Kanaks are very aware of their culture, and their sailors and fishermen heritage : Museum of the maritime history, at Nouméa and Cultural center “Jean-Marie Tjibaou”, at Nouméa This cultural centre with its spectacular architecture by Renzo Piano offers a strong repesentation of the Kanak civilization. This is a must-visit place that relates the past and the future of Caledonia.