The French Pacific territory New Caledonia rejected independence in a referendum, although the winning majority was significantly smaller than predicted.
With voter turnout over 80%, 56.4% opted to remain as part of France.
Polls had actually forecasted a win of up to 75% for the ‘no’ [to independence] campaign.
New Caledonia is of strategic importance to France as a foothold in the Pacific.
However commentators have said the results could reignite tensions between the indigenous Kanak people of the island, who tend to be pro-independence, and the population of white French colonial settlers who have occupied the islands since 1853.
Kanak representatives have said they would continue the fight for independence.