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island within the French overseas country of New Caledonia, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is forested with pinelike coniferous trees of the species Araucaria columnaris, for which the island is named. Capt. James Cook visited the island in 1774. It is rugged, rising to an elevation of 870 feet (265 metres) at Nga Peak. The island, once a penal colony, is now a tourist attraction. Exports include shrimps and oysters. The main town is Vao, on the south coast. Area 59 square miles (152 square km). Pop. (2004) 1,840.