Pitcairn Islands

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"Pitcairn" redirects here. For the ship, see HMS Pitcairn (K589). For the play by Richard Bean, see Pitcairn (play).
Pitkern Ailen
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: "Come Ye Blessed"[1]
"We from Pitcairn Islands"
Royal anthem"God Save the Queen"
Location of  Pitcairn Islands  (circled in red)in the Pacific Ocean  (light yellow)
Location of  Pitcairn Islands  (circled in red)

in the Pacific Ocean  (light yellow)

Status British Overseas Territory
Capital Adamstown
25°04′S 130°06′W / 25.067°S 130.100°W / -25.067; -130.100
Languages English, Pitcairnese
Ethnic groups
Religion Seventh-day Adventist
Demonym Pitcairn Islander[2]
Government Parliamentary dependency under constitutional monarchy
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Governor / High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair
 -  Mayor Shawn Christian
 -  Responsible Ministera (UK) James Duddridge MP
Legislature Island Council
 -  Total 47 km2
18.1 sq mi
 -  2013 estimate 56[3] (last)
 -  2010 census 45
 -  Density 1.19/km2 (240th)
3.09/sq mi
GDP (nominal) 2005 estimate
 -  Total $92,051[4]
Currency New Zealand dollarb (NZD)
Time zone UTC-8
Calling code +64
ISO 3166 code PN
Internet TLD .pn
a. For the Overseas Territories.
b. The Pitcairn Islands dollar is treated as a collectible/souvenir currency outside Pitcairn.

UK Postcode: PCRN 1ZZ

The Pitcairn Islands (/ˈpɪtkɛərn/;[5] Pitkern: Pitkern Ailen), officially Pitcairn,[6] are a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean that form the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The four islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno – are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and have a total land area of about 47 square kilometres (18 sq mi). Only Pitcairn, the second largest island measuring about 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) from east to west, is inhabited.

The islands are inhabited by the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 56 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world.[2][7] The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.[8]


Polynesian settlement and extinction[edit]

The earliest known settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians who appear to have lived on Pitcairn and Henderson, as well as nearby Mangareva Island 400 kilometres (250 mi) to the northwest, for several centuries. They traded goods and formed social ties between the three islands despite the long canoe voyages between them, helping the small populations on each island survive despite having very limited resources. Eventually, important natural resources were used up, inter-island trade broke down and a period of civil war began on Mangareva, causing the small human populations on Henderson and Pitcairn to be cut off and eventually go extinct. Although archaeologists believe that Polynesians were living on Pitcairn as late as the 15th century, the islands were uninhabited when they were rediscovered by Europeans.[9]

European discovery[edit]

Ducie and Henderson Islands were discovered by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, sailing for the Spanish Crown, who arrived on 26 January 1606. He named them La Encarnación ("The Incarnation") and San Juan Bautista ("Saint John the Baptist"), respectively. However, some sources express doubt about exactly which of the islands were visited and named by Queirós, suggesting that Queirós's La Encarnación may actually have been Henderson Island, and San Juan Bautista may have been Pitcairn Island.[10]

Pitcairn Island was sighted on 3 July 1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Philip Carteret. The island was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight the island. Robert Pitcairn was a son of British Marine Major John Pitcairn, who later was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolution.

Carteret, who sailed without the newly invented accurate marine chronometer, charted the island at 25°2′S 133°21′W / 25.033°S 133.350°W / -25.033; -133.350, and although the latitude was reasonably accurate, the longitude was incorrect by about 3°. This made Pitcairn difficult to find, as highlighted by the failure of Captain James Cook to locate the island in July 1773.[11][12]

European settlement[edit]

The mutineers turning Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from the Bounty, 29 April 1789
Further information: Mutiny on the Bounty

In 1790, nine of the mutineers from the Bounty, along with the native Tahitian men and women who were with them (six men, eleven women and a baby girl), settled on Pitcairn Islands and set fire to the Bounty. The wreck is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay, discovered in 1957 by National Geographic explorer Luis Marden. Although the settlers survived by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among them. Alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills took the lives of most mutineers and Tahitian men. John Adams and Ned Young turned to the scriptures, using the ship's Bible as their guide for a new and peaceful society. Young eventually died of an asthmatic infection. The Polynesians also converted to Christianity. They later converted from their original form of Christianity to Seventh-day Adventism, following a successful Adventist mission in the 1890s. After the rediscovery of Pitcairn, John Adams was granted amnesty for his part in the mutiny.[13]

Ducie Island was rediscovered in 1791 by Royal Navy Captain Edwards aboard HMS Pandora, while searching for the Bounty mutineers. He named it after Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 3rd Baron Ducie, also a captain in the Royal Navy.

The Pitcairn islanders reported it was not until 27 December 1795 that the first ship since the Bounty was seen from the island, but it did not approach the land and they could not make out the nationality. A second ship appeared some time in 1801, but made no attempt to communicate with them. A third came sufficiently near to see their house, but did not try to send a boat on shore. Finally, the American trading ship Topaz under Mayhew Folger became the first to visit the island, when the crew spent 10 hours on Pitcairn in February 1808. A report of Folger's discovery was forwarded to the Admiralty, mentioning the mutineers and giving a more precise location of the island: 25°2′S 130°0′W / 25.033°S 130.000°W / -25.033; -130.000.[14] However, this was not known to Sir Thomas Staines, who commanded a Royal Navy flotilla of two ships (HMS Briton and HMS Tagus) which found the island at 25°4′S 130°25′W / 25.067°S 130.417°W / -25.067; -130.417 (by meridian observation) on 17 September 1814. Staines sent a party ashore and wrote a detailed report for the Admiralty.[13][15][16][17]

Henderson Island was rediscovered on 17 January 1819 by a British Captain James Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules. On 2 March 1819, Captain Henry King, sailing on the Elizabeth, landed to find the king's colours already flying. His crew scratched the name of their ship into a tree, and for some years the island was known as either Elizabeth or Henderson. Oeno Island was discovered on 26 January 1824 by American Captain George Worth aboard the whaler Oeno.

British colony[edit]

Pitcairn Island became a British colony in 1838,[2] and was among the first territories to extend voting rights to women. By the mid-1850s, the Pitcairn community was outgrowing the island and its leaders appealed to the British government for assistance and were offered Norfolk Island. On 3 May 1856, the entire community of 193 people set sail for Norfolk on board the Morayshire, arriving on 8 June after a miserable five-week trip. But after eighteen months on Norfolk, seventeen of the Pitcairners decided to return to their home island; five years later another twenty–seven did as well.[13] In 1886 the Seventh-day Adventist layman John Tay visited the island and persuaded most of the islanders to accept his faith. He returned in 1890 on the missionary schooner Pitcairn with an ordained minister to perform baptisms. From that time the majority of Pitcairners were Adventists.[18]

In 1902, Henderson, Oeno and Ducie islands were annexed by Britain: Henderson on 1 July, Oeno on 10 July and Ducie on 19 December.[19] In 1938, the three islands, along with Pitcairn, were formally incorporated into a single administrative unit called the "Pitcairn Group of Islands".

Church of Adamstown

The population peaked at 233 in 1937, and has since fallen due to emigration, primarily to New Zealand, leaving some fifty people living on Pitcairn.[2]

Sexual assault trials of 2004[edit]

In 2004, charges were laid against seven men living on Pitcairn and six living abroad. This accounted for nearly a third of the male population. After extensive trials, most of the men were convicted, some with multiple counts of sexual encounters with children.[20] On 25 October 2004, six men were convicted, including Steve Christian, the island's mayor at the time.[21][22][23] After the six men lost their final appeal, the British government set up a prison on the island at Bob's Valley.[24][25] The men began serving their sentences in late 2006. By 2010, all had served their sentences or been granted home detention status.[26]

In 2010, then–mayor Mike Warren faced 25 charges of possessing images and videos of child pornography on his computer.[27][28]

An "entry clearance application" must be made for any child under the age of 16, prior to visiting Pitcairn, while adults visiting the island for periods of less than 14 days are not required to complete any application or visa request prior to arrival.[29]

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)[30] does not currently allow their staff based on Pitcairn to be accompanied by their children.[29]


The Pitcairn Islands form the southeasternmost extension of the geological archipelago of the Tuamotus of French Polynesia, and consist of four islands: Pitcairn Island, Oeno Island (atoll with five islets, one of which is Sandy Island), Henderson Island and Ducie Island (atoll with four islets).

The Pitcairn Islands were formed by a centre of upwelling magma called the Pitcairn hotspot.

The only permanently inhabited island, Pitcairn, is accessible only by boat through Bounty Bay. Henderson Island, covering about 86% of the territory's total land area and supporting a rich variety of animals in its nearly inaccessible interior, is also capable of supporting a small human population despite its scarce fresh water, but access is difficult, owing to its outer shores being steep limestone cliffs covered by sharp coral. In 1988 this island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.[31] The other islands are at a distance of more than 100 km (62 mi) and are not habitable.

Island or atoll Type Land area
Total area
July 2011
Ducie Island Atoll 0.7 3.9* 0 24°40′09″S 124°47′11″W / 24.66917°S 124.78639°W / -24.66917; -124.78639
Henderson Island Uplifted coral island 37.3 37.3 0 24°22′01″S 128°18′57″W / 24.36694°S 128.31583°W / -24.36694; -128.31583
Oeno Island Atoll 0.65 16.65* 0 23°55′26″S 130°44′03″W / 23.92389°S 130.73417°W / -23.92389; -130.73417
Pitcairn Island Volcanic island 4.6 4.6 68 25°04′00″S 130°06′00″W / 25.06667°S 130.10000°W / -25.06667; -130.10000
Pitcairn Islands
(all islands)
43.25 62.45 68 23°55′26″ to 25°04′00″S,
124°47′11″ to 130°44′03″W

* Includes reef flat and lagoon of the atolls.


Geodesy operations on Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn is located just south of the Tropic of Capricorn and enjoys year-round warm weather. Summer temperatures average 25 to 35 °C (77 to 95 °F) from the months of October through to April, while the winter months range from 17 to 25 °C (63 to 77 °F). The average humidity in summer can exceed 95%. The rainy season is from November through to March.[2]

Flora and fauna[edit]

About nine plant species are thought to occur only on Pitcairn. These include tapau, formerly an important timber resource, and the giant nehe fern (Angiopteris chauliodonta). Some, such as red berry (Coprosma rapensis var. Benefica), are perilously close to extinction.[32] The plant species Glochidion pitcairnense is endemic to Pitcairn and Henderson Islands.[33]

In terms of fauna, an interesting and rare introduction is the Galápagos giant tortoise. The sole surviving tortoise, Mr. T (also known as Turpen), was one of five which arrived on Pitcairn between 1937 and 1951, brought to the island by Irving Johnson, skipper of the 29-metre (96 ft) Brigantine Yankee. Turpen usually lives at Tedside by Western Harbour. A protection order makes it an offence should anyone kill, injure, capture, maim or cause harm or distress to the tortoise.[34]

The birds of Pitcairn fall into several groups. These include seabirds, wading birds and a small number of resident land-bird species. Of twenty breeding species, Henderson Island has sixteen, including the unique flightless Henderson crake; Oeno hosts twelve; Ducie thirteen and Pitcairn six species. Birds breeding on Pitcairn include the fairy tern, common noddy and red-tailed tropicbird. The Pitcairn reed warbler, known by Pitcairners as a "sparrow", is endemic to Pitcairn Island; formerly common, it was added to the endangered species list in 2008.[35]

Important bird areas[edit]

The four islands in the Pitcairn group have been identified by BirdLife International as separate Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Pitcairn Island itself is recognised because it is the only nesting site of the Pitcairn reed warbler. Henderson Island is important for its endemic landbirds as well as its breeding seabirds. Oeno's ornithological significance derives principally from its Murphy's petrel colony. Ducie is important for its colonies of Murphy's, herald and Kermadec petrels, and Christmas shearwaters.[36]

Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve[edit]

In March 2015 the British government established the largest continuous marine protected area in the world around the Pitcairn Islands. The reserve covers the islands' entire exclusive economic zone – 834,334 square kilometres (322,138 sq mi) – more than three times the land area of the British Isles. The intention is to protect some of the world's most pristine ocean habitat from illegal fishing activities. A satellite "watchroom" dubbed Project Eyes on the Seas has been established by the Satellite Applications Catapult and the Pew Charitable Trusts at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Harwell, Oxfordshire to monitor vessel activity and to gather the information needed to prosecute unauthorised trawling.[37][38][39][40]


Map of the European Union in the world with overseas countries and territories and outermost regions

The Pitcairn Islands are a British overseas territory with a degree of local government. The Queen of the United Kingdom is represented by a Governor, who also holds office as British High Commissioner to New Zealand and is based in Auckland.[41]

The 2010 constitution gives authority for the islands to operate as a representative democracy, with the United Kingdom retaining responsibility for matters such as defence and foreign affairs. The Governor and the Island Council may enact laws for the "peace, order and good government" of Pitcairn. The Island Council customarily appoints a Mayor of Pitcairn as a day-to-day head of the local administration. There is a Commissioner, appointed by the Governor, who liaises between the Council and the Governor's office.

The Pitcairn Islands has the smallest population of any democracy in the world.


The Pitcairn Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, meaning defence is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence and Her Majesty's Armed Forces.[2] In 2004, the islanders had about 20 guns among them, which they surrendered ahead of the sexual assault trials.[42]



The fertile soil of the Pitcairn valleys, such as Isaac's Valley on the gentle slopes southeast of Adamstown, produces a wide variety of fruits: including bananas (Pitkern: plun), papaya (paw paws), pineapples, mangoes, watermelons, rockmelons, passionfruit, breadfruit, coconuts, avocadoes, and citrus (including oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes). Vegetables include: sweet potatoes (kumura), carrots, sweet corn, tomatoes, taro, yams, peas, and beans. Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) and sugarcane are grown and harvested to produce arrowroot flour and molasses. Pitcairn Island is remarkably productive and its benign climate allows a wide range of tropical and temperate crops to be grown.[43]

Fish are plentiful in the seas around Pitcairn. Spiny lobster and a large variety of fish are caught for meals and for trading aboard passing ships. Almost every day someone will go fishing, whether it is from the rocks, from a longboat or diving with a spear gun. There are numerous types of fish around the island. Fish such as nanwee, white fish, moi and opapa are caught in shallow water, while snapper, big eye and cod are caught in deep water, and yellow tail and wahoo are caught by trawling. A range of minerals—including manganese, iron, copper, gold, silver and zinc—have been discovered within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 370 km (230 mi) offshore and comprises 880,000 km2 (340,000 sq mi).[44]

Honey production[edit]

In 1998 the UK's overseas aid agency, the Department for International Development, funded an apiculture programme for Pitcairn which included training for Pitcairn's beekeepers and a detailed analysis of Pitcairn's bees and honey with particular regard to the presence or absence of disease. Pitcairn, it was discovered, has one of the best examples of disease-free bee populations anywhere in the world and the honey produced was and remains exceptionally high in quality. Pitcairn bees were also found to be a particularly placid variety and, within a short time, the beekeepers were able to work with them wearing minimal protection.[45] As a result, Pitcairn today exports its renowned honey to New Zealand and to the United Kingdom, where it is stocked in London by Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly and Partridges near Sloane Square. The honey has become a favourite of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.[46] The Pitcairn Islanders, under the "Bounty Products" and "Delectable Bounty" brands, also export dried fruit including bananas, papayas, pineapples and mangoes to New Zealand.[47]


Tourism plays a major role on Pitcairn, providing the locals with 80% of their annual income. Tourism is the main focus for building the future economy focusing on small groups coming by charter vessel and staying at "home stays". Occasionally, passengers from expedition-type cruise ships will come ashore for a day, weather permitting.[48] Since 2009, the Government has been operating the MV Claymore II as the island's only dedicated passenger/cargo vessel providing tourists with adventure tourism holidays to Pitcairn for three- or ten-day visits. Tourists stay with local families and get to experience the island's history while contributing to the local economy. Providing accommodation is a growing source of revenue and some families have invested in private self-contained units adjacent to their homes for tourists to rent. Each year about ten cruise ships call at the island for a few hours, generating income for the locals from the sale of souvenirs, landing fees and the stamping of passports. Children under the age of 16 years require a completed entry clearance application to visit the island.[49]

Lesser revenue sources[edit]

The Pitcairners are involved in creating crafts and curios (made out of wood from Henderson). Typical wood carvings include sharks, fish, whales, dolphins, turtles, vases, birds, walking sticks, book boxes and the famous models of the Bounty. Miro (Thespesia populnea), a dark, durable and beautifully grained wood, is preferred for carving. Islanders also produce exquisite tapa cloth and painted hattie leaves.[50] The major sources of revenue, until recently, have been the sale of coins and postage stamps to collectors, .pn domain names, and the sale of handicrafts to passing ships, most of which are on the United Kingdom to New Zealand route via the Panama Canal.[51]


Electricity on the island is provided by diesel generators operating ten hours per day (from 8 am to 1 pm, and from 5 pm to 10 pm). A wind power plant was planned to be installed to help reduce the high cost of power generation currently associated with the import of diesel, and to provide 24–hour electricity to the islanders at 70 cents per unit[clarification needed] with no government subsidy.[citation needed] The wind power scheme was however cancelled in 2013 after a project overrun of 3 years and a cost of £250,000.[52]

The only currently qualified high voltage electricity technician on the Pitcairn island, who manages the electricity grid, has now reached the retirement age.[53]


The islands have suffered a substantial population decline since 1940, and the viability of the island's community is in doubt (see below). In recent years the government has been trying to attract new migrants. However, these initiatives have not been effective.[54]

In September 2003, a baby was born on the island for the first time in 17 years.[55] Another child, Adrianna Tracey Christian, was born on Pitcairn on 3 March 2007.[56] In February 2005, Shirley and Simon Young became the first married outsider couple in recorded history to obtain citizenship on Pitcairn.[57]

As of 2014, there were 56 people residing on the island.[58]


The majority of the resident Pitcairn Islanders are the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and Tahitians (or other Polynesians). Pitkern is a creole language derived from 18th-century English, with elements of the Tahitian language.[2][31] It is spoken as a first language by the population and is taught alongside standard English at the island's only school. It is closely related to the creole language Norfuk, spoken on Norfolk Island, because Norfolk was repopulated in the mid-19th century by Pitcairners.


100% of the population is Seventh-day Adventist.[2] A successful Seventh-day Adventist mission in the 1890s was important in shaping Pitcairn society. In recent years, the church has declined, with only about eight islanders worshipping regularly, but most of them still attend church on special occasions.[59] The Sabbath is observed as a day of rest and as a mark of respect for observant Adventists.

The church was built in 1954 and is run by the Church board and resident pastor, who usually serves a two-year term. The Sabbath School meets at 10 am on Saturday mornings, and is followed by Divine Service an hour later. On Tuesday evenings there is another service in the form of a prayer meeting.


Education is free and compulsory between the ages of five and 16.[60] All of Pitcairn's seven children were enrolled in school in 2000.[60] The island's children have produced a book in Pitkern and English called Mi Bas Side orn Pitcairn or My Favourite Place on Pitcairn.

The school at Palau provides pre-school and primary education based on the New Zealand syllabus. The teacher is appointed by the governor from suitable qualified applicants who are New Zealand registered teachers. The contract includes the role of editor of the Pitcairn Miscellany.[citation needed]

The Pitcairn Island Economic Report assumes that in around 2015–2016 there will not be any pre-school children and that the children who leave for New Zealand at age 15 for the last years of schooling are unlikely to return.[53]

Historical population[edit]

Pitcairn's population has drastically decreased since its peak of over 250 in 1936 to 56 in 2014.[61]

Pitcairn Islanders, 1916
Year Population Year Population Year Population Year Population Year Population Year Population
1790 27 1880 112 1970 96 1992 54 2002 48 2012 48
1800 34 1890 136 1975 74 1993 57 2003 59 2013 56
1810 50 1900 136 1980 61 1994 54 2004 65 2014 56***
1820 66 1910 140 1985 58 1995 55 2005 63
1830 70 1920 163 1986 68 1996 43 2006 65
1840 119 1930 190 1987 59 1997 40 2007 64
1850 146 1936 250 1988 55 1998 66 2008 66
1856* 193 1940 163 1989 55 1999 46 2009 67
1859** 16 1950 161 1990 59 2000 51 2010 64
1870 70 1960 126 1991 66 2001 44 2011 67

* 1856 Immigration to Norfolk Island left Pitcairn uninhabited. ** 1859 First group returns from Norfolk Island. *** As of July 2014

Potential extinction[edit]

As of July 2014 the resident population of the Pitcairn Islands was 56, including the six temporary residents, an administrator, doctor, and police officer and each of their wives.[58] However, the actual permanent resident population was only 49 Pitkerners spread across 23 households.[53] At the same time, it is rare for the 49 residents to be all on-island at the same time as it is common for several residents to be off-island for varying lengths of time and reasons; for example, visiting family, medical reasons and attending international conferences. At the beginning of November 2013 approximately seven of the residents were known to be off-island.[53] A diaspora survey revealed that by 2045, if nothing is done, only three people of working age will be left on the island with the rest being very old. In addition, the survey revealed that residents who had left the island over the past decades showed little interest in coming back. Of the hundreds of emigrants contacted, 33 were willing to participate in the survey and only 3 expressed a desire to return. This may be partially attributable to the 2004 sexual assault trials which has caused many emigrants to be ashamed of their Pitcairn heritage.[citation needed] The current labour force consists of 31 able-bodied persons, 17 males and 14 females between 18 and 64 years of age. Of these 31 able-bodied persons 18 are over the age of 50, with only three in their 20s, and four in their 30s.[53] Most of the men undertake the more strenuous physical tasks on the island, e.g. crewing the longboats, cargo handling, operation and maintenance of physical assets. Longboat crew retirement age is 58 years of age and while not restricted to males, women do not presently work as longboat crew. There are currently 12 men aged between 18 and 58 residing on Pitcairn. Each long boat requires a minimum crew of three and of the current four men operating in the highly skilled role of longboat coxswain, two are in their late 50s.[53]

The Pitcairn Islands Government attempt to bring migrants to the islands so far was unsuccessful as since 2013 despite receiving some 700 inquiries per year apparently not a single formal settlement application was received.[53][54] The new migrants are prohibited from taking local jobs and claiming benefits for a certain amount of time, even those with children.[62] The migrants are expected to have at least NZ$30 000 per person in savings and are expected to build their own house at average cost of NZ$140 000.[63][64] It is also possible to bring the off-island builders at the additional cost between NZ$23 000 and NZ$28 000.[64] Also after the first two years the migrant's status will be actively reviewed by the island's council, therefore the Settlement status is not guaranteed at all.[65] The migrants are also required to take part in the unpaid public work to keep the island in order: maintain the island's numerous roads and paths, build roads, navigate the island long boats, clean public toilets, etc.[66] There are also restrictions in bringing the children under the age of 16 to the island.[27][29]

Freight from Tauranga to Pitcairn on the MV Claymore II (Pitcairn Island's dedicated passenger and cargo ship chartered by the Pitcairn Government) is charged at NZ$350/m3 for Pitkerners and NZ$1000/m3 for all other freight.[67] Also, Pitkerners are charged NZ$3000 for a return trip from and to the island while others are charged NZ$5000.[53]

Pitcairn Islands Government states that the average cost of living on the island is NZ$9464.[63]

The Pitcairn Islands Government stated in the most recent (2014) Pitcairn Islands Economic Report[53] that "In reality, no-one will migrate to Pitcairn Islands for economic reasons as there are limited government jobs, a lack of private sector employment, as well as considerable competition for the tourism dollar".[53] The Pitkerners are currently rotating (taking tourists in turns) to accommodate those few tourists who occasionally visit the island.[53]

As the island remains a British Overseas Territory, at some point the British government may have to make a decision concerning the island's future.[68][69]


The once-strict moral codes, which prohibited dancing, public displays of affection, smoking, and consumption of alcohol, have been relaxed in recent years. Islanders and visitors no longer require a six-month licence to purchase, import, and consume alcohol.[70] There is now one licensed café and bar on the island, and the Government Store sells alcohol and cigarettes.

Fishing and swimming are two popular recreational activities. A birthday celebration or the arrival of a ship or yacht will involve the entire Pitcairn community in a public dinner in the Square, Adamstown. Tables are covered in a variety of foods, including fish, meat, chicken, philhi, baked rice, boiled plun (banana), breadfruit, vegetable dishes, an assortment of pies, bread, breadsticks, an array of desserts, pineapple and watermelon.

Public work ensures the ongoing maintenance of the island's numerous roads and paths. The island has a labour force of over 35 men and women (as of 2011).[2]

Media and communications[edit]

Pitcairn uses New Zealand's international calling code, +64. It is still on the manual telephone system.
There is no broadcast station. Marine band walkie-talkie radios are used to maintain contact among people in different areas of the island. Foreign stations can be picked up on shortwave radio.
Amateur Radio
QRZ.COM lists six amateur radio operators on the island, using the ITU prefix (assigned through the UK) of VP6. Some of those operators have now died while others are no longer active. The last DX-pedition to Pitcairn took place in 2012[71] In 2008 a major DX-pedition visited Ducie Island.[72]
There are two live TV channels available via Trans-Pacific satellite, CNN, and Turner Classic Movies.[citation needed] Free-to-air satellite dishes can be used to watch foreign TV.
There is one Government-sponsored satellite internet connection, with networking provided to the inhabitants of the island. Pitcairn's country code (top level domain) is .pn. Residents pay NZ$100 (about £50) for 2 GB of data per month, at a rate of 256 kbit/s.[73] The Pitcairn Miscellany reports that despite the bandwidth recently being doubled to 512 kbit/s this is not per user but is in fact shared between all families on the island making normal internet use extremely difficult.


The settlers of the Pitcairns all arrived by some form of boat or ship.

Pitcairn Island does not have an airport, airstrip or seaport;[49] the islanders rely on longboats to ferry people and goods between visiting ships and shore through Bounty Bay. Access to the rest of the shoreline is restricted by jagged geography. The island has one shallow harbour with a launch ramp only accessible by small longboats.[74]

A dedicated passenger/cargo supply ship chartered by the Pitcairn Island Government, the MV Claymore II, is the principal transport from Mangareva, Gambier Islands, French Polynesia although passage can also be booked through Pitcairn Travel, Pitcairn's locally owned tour operators who charter the SV Xplore, owned by Stephen Wilkins, which also departs from Mangareva.

Totegegie Airport in Mangareva is reachable by air from the French Polynesian capital Papeete.[75]

There is one 6.4-kilometre (4 mi) paved road leading up from Bounty Bay through Adamstown.

The main mode of transport on Pitcairn Islands is by four-wheel drive quad bikes or on foot.[49] As of December 2013 much of the road and track network and some of the footpaths of Pitcairn Island are viewable on Google's Street View.[76][77]

Notable People[edit]

On 20 September 1793, Fletcher Christian died here at age 28.[78]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pitcairn Islands". nationalanthems.info.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "CIA World Factbook – Pitcairn Islands". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Thomas Brinkhoff (1 February 2013). "Pitcairn Islands". citypopulation.de. Thomas Brinkhoff. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  4. ^ Pitcairn Islands Strategic Development Plan
  5. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
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Further reading[edit]

The Mutiny on the Bounty

  • Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, 1932
  • The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty by Caroline Alexander (Harper Perennial, London, 2003 pp. 491)
  • The Discovery of Fletcher Christian: A Travel Book by Glynn Christian, a descendant of Fletcher Christian, Bounty Mutineer (Guild Press, London, 2005 pp. 448)

After the Mutiny

  • Men Against the Sea by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, 1933
  • Pitcairn's Island by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, 1934
  • The Pitcairners by Robert B. Nicolson (Pasifika Press, Auckland, 1997 pp. 260)
  • After the Bounty: The Aftermath of the Infamous Mutiny on the HMS Bounty—An Insight to the Plight of the Mutineers by Cal Adams, a descendant of John Adams, Bounty Mutineer (Self-published, Sydney, 2008 pp. 184)

External links[edit]

Government of the Pitcairn Islands

Travel to Pitcairn

News from Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn Island Study Groups on the Internet

Coordinates: 25°04′S 130°06′W / 25.067°S 130.100°W / -25.067; -130.100