New Caledonia was attached to the French Establishments of Oceania before becoming an autonomous colony in 1860. Overseas Territory in 1946, it chose to keep this status in 1958 and 1972. New Caledonia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1774. The French recognized the island during the Revolution. After the massacre of French sailors by the natives in 1853, France seized the island militarily and founded Noumea in 1854 under the name of Port-de-France. Until the year 1860, New Caledonia depended on the Territories of Oceania. The furthest French territory from mainland France, New Caledonia was an important penal colony between 1864 and 1896, in particular for communards, such as Louise Michel. It has significant mineral wealth, including nickel, which was used to make our coins from the half-franc to the 5-franc piece..