The population of the city (commune) at the Aug./Sept. 2004 census was 91,386 inhabitants (up from 76,293 inhabitants at the 1996 census). Including the suburbs of Nouméa, the population of the Greater Noumea metropolitan area (French: agglomération du Grand Noumea) at the 2004 census was 146,245 inhabitants (up from 118,823 inhabitants in 1996, meaning a booming 2.5% population increase per year). 63.4% of the population of New Caledonia live in Greater Noumea, which covers the communes of Noumea, Le Mont-Dore, Dumbea and Paita.
Noumea, the city, is the most "westernised" in the Pacific Islands region, with the exception of Hagatna, Guam, and is a complete contrast to the rest of New Caledonia's wide open spaces, bare jagged hills, and largely Kanak population (although there also exist important concentrations of Europeans on the northwestern coast of New Caledonia's mainland, particularly around Bourail, Pouembout, and Koumac). Although Noumea probably has the "best" climate in the South Pacific, with more sunshine days than any other Pacific Island capital, and some excellent beaches not far from the city centre, it is not currently a major tourist destination. The cost of living is high, and there is no cheap air-travel from the Pacific Rim. Noumea's international airport is at Tontouta, the La Tontouta International Airport, 50 kilometres from the city, although there is an airport within the city, Magenta, which services local routes.