Pitcairn Islands Overview

Pitcairn Islands Overview

The Pitcairn Islands – officially British overseas territory Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands – make up an archipelago located in Polynesia, in Oceania. See Pitcairn Islands facts.

The archipelago is made up of four islands of volcanic origin, of which only Pitcairn is inhabited. The other three are Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno.

Its capital is Adamstown, where the only settlement on the island is located and it is located in the north-central part of the island, as well as being the smallest official capital in the world. The closest places are Easter Island (Chile) to the east and Mangareva (French Polynesia) to the west.

  • in English language: Pitcairn Islands
  • in Pitcairnese-Norfolkian language: Pitkern Ailen

It is a British Overseas Territory and the only remaining British colony in the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories under the supervision of the United Nations Decolonization Committee, in order to eliminate colonialism.

The group is located in the eastern tip of Polynesia, south of the Tropic of Capricorn, east of French Polynesia. The economy is based on subsistence agriculture, fishing, handicrafts and the sale of postage stamps. Still unexploited mineral deposits have been discovered. The climate is tropical rainy, moderated by the marine influence. The islands are subject to typhoons between the months of November and March.


The island was uninhabited when it was discovered for Spain by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernández de Quirós. It was rediscovered by the British in 1767, and named after the first crew member to see the island.

When the British lost their North American colonies, feeding slaves on the sugar cane plantations of the Antilles was a real problem, until the Pacific explorers, returning from their expeditions, reported that in the islands of this ocean there were “trees that gave bread.”

The famous Bounty mutiny (in 1789) had historical consequences. The crew took over the ship and left Captain William Bligh and his followers in a boat adrift in the waters of the Pacific. Its population is made up of descendants of the mutinous sailors of the English ship HMS Bounty and Polynesian women of Tahiti.

In order not to be found by the English Navy – and to avoid being hanged – the fugitives decided that the Bounty should disappear from the face of the Earth. So (in January 1790) they set it on fire. There they remained completely isolated for a quarter of a century. Two hundred years later, the 48 descendants of the mutineers are still the only residents of the island.


Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II ;

George Fergusson, sitting governor since May 2006,

British High Commissioner in New Zealand Jay Warren has been a Magistrate and Chairman of the Council since 1990.

The Council is made up of 10 members. Randy Christian, Magistrate and President of the Council since 2004.

National holiday: Second Saturday in June, Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday (1926).

Armed Forces: Defense is in charge of the United Kingdom.


Pitcairn is the only inhabited island, it has an area of 5 km², and is located 2120 km from Tahiti and only accessible through Bounty Bay.

Henderson Island, which represents 67% of the total area of the territory, is located 200 km northwest of Pitcairn. Its coastline includes limestone cliffs of coral origin, which evenly surround the entire island. The atoll formed by Oeno is located 140 km north of the main island. Ducie Atoll is the furthest 360 km from Henderson.


The Pitcairn Islands are located just below the Tropic of Capricorn, so they enjoy warm temperatures throughout the year. Average temperatures are 25 to 35 ° C (degrees Celsius) from October to April, while in winters the temperature ranges between 17 and 25 ° C.

Average humidity in summer can exceed 95%.

The rainy season is from November to March.


There is no notable economic activity, while tourism is restricted and there are no notable natural resources. All goods are imported and arrive by sea. Except for certain handicrafts, the only national exported product is honey, classified as high quality. An important source of income for the country comes from the issuance of postage stamps, prized among philatelic collectors around the world due to their obvious rarity.

Due to the orography of the island, there are no large ports or landing strips, so trade has to be done by boats that visit ships. Occasionally, passengers from expeditions or cruises can disembark for a day, weather permitting.


Pitcairn’s culture, like its language, is a mix of English and Tahitian influences. The population is made up of descendants of the mutinous sailors of the English ship HMS Bounty and Polynesian women of Tahiti. Its residents profess the Christian religion of the Seventh-day Adventists.

The French writer Jules Verne made a correction of the chronicles of the arrival of the first remaining settlers in his work The mutineers of the Bounty.


  • The electrical energy is generated with fuel brought from New Zealand, by a diesel plant and the use of solar panels is being implemented
  • There is a permanent doctor in the Pitcairns, but highly complex medical services are usually done by traveling to Tahiti.

Pitcairn Islands Overview

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