New Caledonia was a French penal colony from 1864 to 1922. Many political prisoners and criminals were detained here. France had a dual objective of populating a new colony and redeeming the convicts. Many prisons were created in different parts of New Caledonia. Deportees usually cultivated small plots; they had to rehabilitate through work.
More than 240 political exiles died on Isle of Pines out of 3000 that used to live here. They were mostly communards of Paris Commune of 1871. At their cemetery all tombs except two have become anonymous.