The Pitcairn Islands reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Pitcairn Islands

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The Pitcairn Islands are a group of five islands, of which one is inhabited, in the southern Pacific Ocean, the only remaining British colony in the Pacific. The islands are known mostly because the original settlers were mutineers of HMS Bounty, as well as Tahitians those mutineers took along, 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 about 50 inhabitants (9 families).

Pitcairn Islands
(In Detail) (In Detail)
National motto: ?
Official language English (they also speak Pitcairnese)
Capital Adamstown
GovernorRichard Fell
MayorSteve Christian
 - Total
 - % water

47 km2
 - Total (2003)
 - Density

Dependent area ofUnited Kingdom
Currency New Zealand dollar
Time zone UTC -8
National anthem None
Internet TLD.PN

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Geography
4 Economy
5 Demographics
6 Law and Crime
7 Communications
8 Transportation
9 ccTLD
10 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 and set fire to the Bounty. Several of the mutineers and Tahitians subsequently killed other mutineers and Tahitians. The island became a British colony in 1838. By the mid 1850s 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 emigration, 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, most of which are plying the United Kingdom to New Zealand route via the Panama Canal. Trade is restricted by the jagged design of the island, which lacks a harbour or airstrip, forcing all trade to be made by longboat to anchored ships.

Labor force: 12 able-bodied men and an unknown number of able bodied women(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. As recently as 2003, however, the prohibition on alcohol seemed to be slackening, with several families accepting use.

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.

Seven of the accused men challenged the jurisdiction of the Pitcairn Islands Supreme Court to hear the charges on the grounds that the United Kingdom does not have constitutional authority over the Pitcairn Islands and could not validly make the laws under which they were charged or establish the court that was to try them. The Full Court of the Pitcairn Islands Supreme Court, sitting in New Zealand, rejected this challenge in a judgment delivered on 18 April 2004.


domestic: NA Country code (Top level domain): PN


The settlers of the Pitcairns all arrived by some form of boat or ship; the most famous was the HMS Bounty, on which the mutiny occurred and which burned down in Bounty Bay.

These remote islands do not have an airport or seaport; the country relies on longboats to ferry people and goods between ship and shore through Bounty Bay on the only inhabited island, Pitcairn.

There are no paved roads and no railways. There is 6.4 km of unpaved road. On land, walking has historically been the way of getting around; all-terrain vehicles have been used in more recent years, as well as walking.


Their Domain Registry is based at

External links

Countries in Oceania
Australia | Fiji | Kiribati | Marshall Islands | Federated States of Micronesia | Nauru | New Zealand | Palau | Papua New Guinea | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Tonga | Tuvalu | Vanuatu
Other political units: American Samoa | Cook Islands | Easter Island | French Polynesia | Guam | Hawaii | Papua (Indonesia) | Midway Atoll | New Caledonia | Niue | Norfolk Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Pitcairn Islands | Tokelau | Wake Island | Wallis and Futuna

Overseas territories of the United Kingdom
Anguilla | Bermuda | British Antarctic Territory | British Indian Ocean Territory | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Falkland Islands | Gibraltar | Montserrat | Pitcairn Islands | Saint Helena | South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands
Sovereign Base Areas