The Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia (French: Royaume d'Araucanie et de Patagonie; sometimes referred to as New France) was an ephemeral political entity established in the 19th century by a French lawyer and adventurer named Orélie-Antoine de Tounens in southern South America. At the time the local indigenous Mapuche population of Araucanía and Patagonia were engaged in a desperate armed struggle to retain their independence in the face of hostile military and economic encroachment by the governments of Chile and Argentina, who coveted the Mapuche lands for their agricultural potential.
While visiting the region in 1860, Orélie-Antoine came to sympathise with the Mapuche cause, and a group of loncos (Mapuche tribal leaders) in turn elected him to the position of King—possibly in the belief that their cause might be better served with a European acting on their behalf. Orélie-Antoine then set about establishing a government, created a blue, white and green flag, and had coins minted for the nation under the name of Nouvelle France.
His efforts at securing international recognition for the Mapuche were thwarted by the Chilean and Argentinian governments, who captured, imprisoned and then deported him on several occasions. The supposed founding of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia led to the approval of the Occupation of the Araucanía by Chilean forces. Chilean president José Joaquín Pérez authorized Cornelio Saavedra Rodríguez, commander the Chilean troops invading Araucanía to capture Orélie-Antoine. He did not receive further punishment because he was deemed to be insane by both Chilean and Argentine authorities and sent to a madhouse in Chile. King Orélie-Antoine I eventually died penniless in France in 1878 after years of fruitless struggle to regain his perceived legitimate authority over his conquered kingdom.
The first Araucanian king's present-day successor, Prince Felipe, lives in France and has renounced his predecessor's claims to the Kingdom, but he has kept alive the memory of Orélie-Antoine, and lent continued support to the ongoing struggle for Mapuche self-determination by authorising the minting of forty or so coins in cupronickel, silver, gold, and palladium since 1988.