Pitcairn Islands

British overseas territory in the South Pacific

The Pitcairn Islands are a group of islands in the southern Pacific. People only live on the second-largest of the four islands. That island is named Pitcairn. It is governed by the United Kingdom. It has the smallest number of people of any country. In 2019, 50 people lived there.

Pitcairn Islands
Pitkern Ailen  (Pitcairn-Norfolk)
Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands
Anthem: "God Save the King"
Local anthem: "Come Ye Blessed"
Map showing location of the Pitcairn Islands (circled at the lower-right and magnified in an inset)
Map showing location of the Pitcairn Islands (circled at the lower-right and magnified in an inset)
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Settlement15 January 1790
British colony30 November 1838
and largest settlement
25°04′S 130°06′W / 25.067°S 130.100°W / -25.067; -130.100
Official languages
Ethnic groups
Pitcairn Islanders
  • Pitcairn Islanders
  • Pitkern
  • Pitcairnese
GovernmentDevolved locally governing dependency
• Monarch
Charles III
• Governor
Iona Thomas
Steve Townsend
• Mayor
Simon Young
LegislatureIsland Council
Government of the United Kingdom
David Rutley
• Total
47 km2 (18 sq mi) (not ranked)
Highest elevation
330 m (1,080 ft)
• 2021 estimate
47 (last)
• Density
1/km2 (2.6/sq mi) (not ranked)
GDP (nominal)2005 estimate
• Total
• Per capita
CurrencyNew Zealand dollar (NZ$)[a] (NZD)
Time zoneUTC-08:00
Driving sideleft
Calling code+64
UK postcode
ISO 3166 codePN
Internet TLD.pn
  1. The Pitcairn Islands dollar is also official legal tender, although it does not circulate as widely.
A map of the islands.
The mutineers turning Bligh and part of the officers and crew adrift from the Bounty, 29 April 1789

The islands are best known as home of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians (or Polynesians) who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This history still shows in the surnames of many of the islanders. There are only four family names (as of 2010): Christian, Warren, Young and Brown.



Originally people from Polynesia lived on the Pitcairn Islands, but there was no one living on the islands when they were discovered (found) by Captain Philip Carteret of H.M.S. Swallow on 2 July 1767. The island was named after Robert Pitcairn, a 15 year old midshipman who was the first person on the Swallow to see it. Robert is believed to have been lost at sea in early 1770 when the ship he was on, HMS Aurora, went missing in the Indian Ocean.[2]

Recent sex crimes


In 2004 charges were laid against seven men living on Pitcairn and six living abroad with sex-related offences dating back a number of years. On 25 October 2004, six men were convicted, including the island's mayor at the time. After the six men lost their final appeal, the British government set up a prison on the island at Bob's Valley. The men began serving their sentences in late 2006, as of 2010 all men have served their sentences or been granted home detention status (Pitcairn News, 2010).

In 2010 the island received a new and updated constitution.[3]



While the Pitcairn Islands are a British Overseas Territory, the islands use the New Zealand dollar, not pound sterling. The US dollar is also used. [4]


  1. "Pitcairn Islands Strategic Development Plan, 2012–2016" (PDF). The Government of the Pitcairn Islands. 2013. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2015. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) . . . NZ$217,000 (2005/06 indicative estimate) and NZ$4,340 per capita (based on 50 residents)
  2. "Major John Pitcairn". Henderson Island Website. Archived from the original on 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
  3. Presenter: Paul Allen Speaker: Pitcairn Island Governor, George Fergusson. Pitcairn Island proclaims new constitution. Radio Australia, March 11, 2010
  4. "Already Booked | Pitcairn Islands Tourism". Visit Pitcairn. Retrieved 2022-07-03.

The Islands