Pitcairn Islands

Flag of Pitcairn Islands

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Pitcairn Island was discovered in 1767 by the British and settled in 1790 by the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions. Pitcairn was the first Pacific island to become a British colony (in 1838) and today remains the last vestige of that empire in the South Pacific. Outmigration, primarily to New Zealand, has thinned the population from a peak of 233 in 1937 to less than 50 today.


Oceania, islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about midway between Peru and New Zealand

Geographic coordinates:

25 04 S, 130 06 W


total: 47 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 47 sq km


tropical; hot and humid; modified by southeast trade winds; rainy season (November to March)


rugged volcanic formation; rocky coastline with cliffs

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pawala Valley Ridge 347 m

Natural resources:

miro trees (used for handicrafts), fish
note: manganese, iron, copper, gold, silver, and zinc have been discovered offshore

Natural hazards:

typhoons (especially November to March)

Environment - current issues:

deforestation (only a small portion of the original forest remains because of burning and clearing for settlement)

Geography - note:

Britain's most isolated dependency; only the larger island of Pitcairn is inhabited but it has no port or natural harbor; supplies must be transported by rowed longboat from larger ships stationed offshore


46 (July 2004 est.)

Ethnic groups:

descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives


Seventh-Day Adventist 100%


English (official), Pitcairnese (mixture of an 18th century English dialect and a Tahitian dialect)

Dependency status:

overseas territory of the UK



National holiday:

Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)


1838; reformed 1904 with additional reforms in 1940; further refined by the Local Government Ordinance of 1964

Legal system:

local island by-laws

Economy - overview:

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

Labor force:

12 able-bodied men (1997)

Agriculture - products:

wide variety of fruits and vegetables, goats, chickens


postage stamps, handicrafts

Electricity - production:

NA kWh; note - electric power is provided by a small diesel-powered generator

Exports - commodities:

fruits, vegetables, curios, stamps

Imports - commodities:

fuel oil, machinery, building materials, flour, sugar, other foodstuffs


New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Telephones - main lines in use:

1 (there are 17 telephones on one party line); (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: only party line telephone service is available for this small, closely related community
domestic: party line service only
international: country code - 672; satellite earth station (Inmarsat)


total: 6.4 km
paved: 0 km
unpaved: 6.4 km

Ports and harbors:

Adamstown (on Bounty Bay)

Merchant marine:

total: 1 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 3,313 GRT/5,651 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2003 est.)


none (2003 est.)

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the UK