Photos of Norfolk Island



Polynesians lived on Norfolk Island between 1200 and 1500 but the remote island was uninhabited by the time British explorer James COOK landed on the island in 1774. Two British attempts at establishing the island as a penal colony (1788-1814 and 1825-55) were ultimately abandoned.

In 1856, almost 200 Pitcairn Islanders - descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions - were relocated to Norfolk Island because of overcrowding on the Pitcairn Islands. Some returned to the Pitcairn Islands over the next few years but most settled permanently on Norfolk Island and recreated the land tenure and governance structures they previously had. Norfolk Island retained a great degree of local control until 1897, when it became a dependency of New South Wales. During World War II, Norfolk Island was an airbase and an important refueling stop in the South Pacific. In 1976, an Australian judge recommended Norfolk Island be incorporated fully into Australia, which Norfolk Islanders rejected. Following an appeal to the UN, Australia granted limited self-government to Norfolk Island in 1979.

With growing financial troubles during the 2000s, Australia abolished the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly in 2015, reduced Norfolk Island’s autonomy in 2016, and suspended the local council in 2020. Most services are provided by a mix of the Australian Capital Territory and the states of New South Wales and Queensland. These moves were unpopular on Norfolk Island, which has sought to have its self-government restored.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



Oceania, island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia

Geographic coordinates

29 02 S, 167 57 E


total: 36 sq km

land: 36 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 234

Area - comparative

about 0.2 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


subtropical; mild, little seasonal temperature variation


volcanic island with mostly rolling plains


highest point: Mount Bates 319 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Land use

agricultural land: 25% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 25% (2018 est.)

forest: 11.5% (2018 est.)

other: 63.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Population distribution

population concentrated around the capital of Kingston

Natural hazards

tropical cyclones (especially May to July)

Geography - note

most of the 32 km coastline consists of almost inaccessible cliffs, but the land slopes down to the sea in one small southern area on Sydney Bay, where the capital of Kingston is situated

People and Society


1,748 (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 232


noun: Norfolk Islander(s)

adjective: Norfolk Islander(s)

Ethnic groups

Australian 22.8%, English 22.4%, Pitcairn Islander 20%, Scottish 6%, Irish 5.2%

(2011 est.)

note: respondents were able to identify up to two ancestries; percentages represent a proportion of all responses from people in Norfolk Island, including those who did not identify an ancestry; only top responses are shown


English (official) 44.9%, Norfolk (official; also known as Norfuk or Norf'k, which is a mixture of 18th century English and ancient Tahitian) 40.3%, Fijian 1.8%, other 6.8%, unspecified 6.2% (2016 est.)

note: data represent language spoken at home


Protestant 46.8% (Anglican 29.2%, Uniting Church in Australia 9.8%, Presbyterian 2.9%, Seventh Day Adventist 2.7%, other 2.2%), Roman Catholic 12.6%, other Christian 2.9%, other 1.4%, none 26.7%, unspecified 9.5% (2016 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: NA

15-64 years: NA

65 years and over: NA

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: NA

youth dependency ratio: NA

elderly dependency ratio: NA

potential support ratio: NA

Population growth rate

0.01% (2014 est.)

comparison ranking: 193

Population distribution

population concentrated around the capital of Kingston

Infant mortality rate

total: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Life expectancy at birth

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA


total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA


Environment - current issues

inadequate solid waste management; most freshwater obtained through rainwater catchment; preservation of unique ecosystem


subtropical; mild, little seasonal temperature variation

Land use

agricultural land: 25% (2018 est.)

arable land: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 25% (2018 est.)

forest: 11.5% (2018 est.)

other: 63.5% (2018 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Territory of Norfolk Island

conventional short form: Norfolk Island

etymology: named by British explorer Captain James COOK after Mary HOWARD, Duchess of Norfolk, in 1774

Government type

non-self-governing overseas territory of Australia; note - the Norfolk Island Regional Council, which began operations 1 July 2016, is responsible for planning and managing a variety of public services, including those funded by the Government of Australia

Dependency status

self-governing territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities & Regional Development


name: Kingston

geographic coordinates: 29 03 S, 167 58 E

time difference: UTC+11 (16 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in October; ends first Sunday in April

etymology: the name is a blending of the words "king's" and "town"; the British king at the time of the town's settlement in the late 18th century was GEORGE III

Administrative divisions

none (territory of Australia)


none (territory of Australia)

National holiday

Bounty Day (commemorates the arrival of Pitcairn Islanders), 8 June (1856)


history: previous 1913, 1957; latest effective 7 August 1979

amendments: amended many times, last in 2020

Legal system

English common law and the laws of Australia


see Australia


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia General David HURLEY (since 1 July 2019)

head of government: Administrator Eric HUTCHINSON (since 1 April 2017)

cabinet: Executive Council consists of 4 Legislative Assembly members

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch; administrator appointed by the governor general of Australia for a 2-year term and represents the monarch and Australia

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Norfolk Island Regional Council (5 seats; councillors directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); mayor elected annually by the councillors

elections: last held on 28 May 2016 (next originally scheduled for 13 March 2021 was postponed); note - on 6 December 2021, the councillors of the Norfolk Island Regional Council were formally dismissed by the assistant minister and appointed as Administrator of the Council until 2024

election results: seats by party - independent 5; composition - men 4, women 1, percent of women 20%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court of Norfolk Island (consists of the chief justice and several justices); note - appeals beyond the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island are heard by the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia

judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor general of Australia from among justices of the Federal Court of Australia; justices serve until mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: Petty Court of Sessions; specialized courts, including a Coroner's Court and the Employment Tribunal

Political parties and leaders

Norfolk Island Labor Party [Mike KELLY]
Norfolk Liberals [John BROWN]

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (territory of Australia)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (territory of Australia)

Flag description

three vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green with a large green Norfolk Island pine tree centered in the slightly wider white band; green stands for the rich vegetation on the island, and the pine tree - endemic to the island - is a symbol of Norfolk Island

note: somewhat reminiscent of the flag of Canada with its use of only two colors and depiction of a prominent local floral symbol in the central white band; also resembles the green and white triband of Nigeria

National symbol(s)

Norfolk Island pine

National anthem

name: "Come Ye Blessed"

lyrics/music: New Testament/John Prindle SCOTT

note: the local anthem, whose lyrics consist of the words from Matthew 25:34-36, 40, is also known as "The Pitcairn Anthem;" the island does not recognize "Advance Australia Fair" (which other Australian territories use); instead "God Save the King" is official (see United Kingdom)


Economic overview

high-income Australian territorial economy; key tourism and re-exportation industries; small labor force and declining participation creating more part-time jobs; former tax haven; increasing medical cannabis exporter; little transportation infrastructure

Agricultural products

Norfolk Island pine seed, Kentia palm seed, cereals, vegetables, fruit; cattle, poultry


tourism, light industry, ready mixed concrete


revenues: $4.6 million (FY99/00)

expenditures: $4.8 million (FY99/00)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Exports - partners

Philippines 29%, Singapore 21%, India 14%, Belgium 7%, Australia 5%, Canada 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

pine seeds, lumber, cars and vehicle parts, soybeans, lactose syrup, cleaning products, scrap aluminum (2021)

Imports - partners

New Zealand 23%, Australia 19%, Philippines 19%, Singapore 14%, Fiji 11% (2019)

Imports - commodities

clothing and apparel, chemical analysis instruments, refined petroleum, cars, kitchen machinery (2019)

Exchange rates

Australian dollars (AUD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1.311 (2017 est.)
1.3291 (2016 est.)
1.3291 (2015)
1.3291 (2014 est.)
1.1094 (2013 est.)


Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the current infrastructure consists of fixed line telephone utilizing copper twisted pair cable and optic fiber, two Satellite Earth Station, GSM Mobile switch with five remote base stations and 2 micro cells, central public exchange which switches international as well as national calls, ADSL Broadband internet connection (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line), and an ISP (Internet Service Provider); 3G/4G telecommunications network went live on Tuesday 12 January, 2021 (2021)

domestic: free local calls

international: country code - 672; submarine cable links with Australia and New Zealand; satellite earth station - 1

Broadcast media

1 local radio station; broadcasts of several Australian radio and TV stations available via satellite (2009)

Internet users

total: 806 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 46.1% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 230



1 (2024)

comparison ranking: 215


total: 80 km

paved: 53 km

unpaved: 27 km (2008)

comparison ranking: total 217

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Kingston

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Australia

Transnational Issues