The Pitcairn Islands is group of five islands, of which one is inhabited, in the southern Pacific Ocean, the only remaining British colony in the area. The islands are known mostly because the original settlers were mutineers of HMS Bounty, as described in the book Mutiny on the Bounty, later depicted in a number of movies. Also it is the least populated country of the world with ca. 50 inhabitants (9 families).

Pitcairn Islands
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: ?
Official language English
Capital Adamstown
GovernorRichard Fell
MayorSteve Christian
 - Total
 - % water

47 kmē
 - Total (2003)
 - Density

Dependent area ofUnited Kingdom
Currency New Zealand dollar
Time zone UTC +8.5
National anthem None
Internet TLD.PN

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Geography
4 Economy
5 Demographics
6 Law and Crime
7 Miscellaneous topics
8 External links


Main article: History of the Pitcairn Islands

Although archaeologists assume that Polynesians lived on Pitcairn as late as the 15th century, the island was uninhabited when it was discovered by Spanish explorer Pedro Fernandez de Quiros. It was rediscovered by the British in 1767, and named after the crew member that first spotted the island.

In 1790, the mutineers of Bounty and their Tahitian companions settled on the island. The island became a British colony in 1838. By the mid 1850's the Pitcairn community was outgrowing the island and they appealed to Queen Victoria for help. Queen Victoria offered them Norfolk Island and on 3 May, 1856, the entire community of 193 people set sail for Norfolk Island on board the Morayshire. They arrived on 8 June after a miserable 5 week trip. However, after 18 months, 17 returned to Pitcairn and 5 years later another 27 returned.

Since a population peak of 233 in 1937, the island is suffering from outmigration, primarily to New Zealand, leaving a current population of approximately 50.

The wreck of Bounty is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay.

There are allegations of a long history and tradition of sexual abuse of girls as young as 10 and 11.


Main article: Politics of the Pitcairn Islands

The island is governed by the British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Richard Fell, who is therefore not resident on the island. The island's daily affairs are taken care of by the Magistrate, chairman of the Island Council. Elections for this position take place every three years. The previous executive functions of the magistrate were assigned to the mayor of Pitcairn in 1998, currently Steve Christian.


Main article: Geography of the Pitcairn Islands

The Pitcairn Islands consist of five islands: Pitcairn Island, Sandy Island, Oeno Island, Henderson Island and Ducie Island. Pitcairn and Henderson are volcanic islands, and Ducie is a coral atoll.

The only inhabited island, Pitcairn, is only accessible by boat through Bounty Bay.


Main article: Economy of the Pitcairn Islands

The fertile soil of the Pitcairn valleys produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus, sugarcane, watermelons, bananas, yams, beans. The inhabitants of this tiny economy exist on fishing, subsistence farming, handicrafts, with barter an important part of the economy. The major sources of revenue are the sale of postage stamps to collectors, honey and the sale of handicrafts to passing ships.

Labor force: 12 able-bodied men (1997).


Main article: Demographics of the Pitcairn Islands

Most of the resident Pitcairn Islanders are still descendants of the Bounty mutineers, as their surnames show. All Pitcairners are members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. An 18th century dialect of the English language is spoken along with the Tahitian language, the two together forming a creole language known as Pitcairnese.

In September 2003 a child was born, the first on the Pitcairn Islands in 17 years.

Law and Crime

Showing affection in public, dancing and alcoholic beverages are forbidden.

Seven men living on Pitcairn and another six now living overseas face 96 charges relating to sexual offences against young girls. A bill was passed in 2002 to allow a trial in New Zealand, based on Pitcairn law, to be held in 2004. There will be very few men left on the islands if the trials are held in New Zealand, and satellite video-linking has been considered.

The charges include 21 counts of rape, 41 of indecent assault and two of gross indecency with a child under 14. The men of Pitcairn Island blame the police for convincing the females involved to press charges. Several women are now fighting to be allowed to withdraw their charging testimony.

Miscellaneous topics

External links

Countries of the world  |  Oceania