Photos of Pitcairn Islands

The volcanic island shown here is Pitcairn Island, the island on which the sailors from the British ship HMS Bounty settled after their mutiny in 1790. High cliffs surround most of the island, making access difficult - likely a primary reason the mutineers chose this landfall. The center of the island is green, covered with a dense forest. The island's only inhabitants (descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian companions) live in Adamstown, the bright spots near the northeast shore. A faint semi-circle around the top of the island traces out an ancient crater, evidence of Pitcairn's volcanic past. This image of Pitcairn was taken on 5 April 2006. Photo courtesy of NASA.



Polynesians were the first settlers on the four tiny islands that are now called the Pitcairn Islands, but all four were uninhabited by the time Europeans discovered them in 1606. Pitcairn Island -- the only one now inhabited -- was rediscovered by British explorer Philip CARTERET in 1767. In 1789, Fletcher CHRISTIAN led a mutiny on the HMS Bounty, and after several months of searching for Pitcairn Island, he landed on it with eight other mutineers and their Tahitian companions. They lived in isolation and evaded detection by English authorities until 1808, when only one man, 10 women, and 23 children remained. In 1831, with the population of 87 proving too big for the island, the British attempted to move all the islanders to Tahiti, but they were soon returned to Pitcairn Island. The island became an official British colony in 1838, and in 1856, the British again determined that the population of 193 was too high and relocated all the residents to Norfolk Island. Several families returned in 1858 and 1864, bringing the island’s population to 43, and almost all of the island’s current population are descendants of these returnees. 

The UK annexed the nearby uninhabited islands of Henderson, Oeno, and Ducie in 1902 and incorporated them into the Pitcairn Islands colony in 1938. The population peaked at 233 in 1937 as outmigration, primarily to New Zealand, has since thinned the population. Only two children were born between 1986 and 2012, and in 2005, a couple became the first outsiders to obtain citizenship in more than a century. Since 2013, the Pitcairn Islands has tried to attract new migrants but has had no applicants because it requires prospective migrants to front significant sums of money and prohibits employment during a two-year trial period, at which point the local council can deny long-term resident status.

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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

land: 47 sq km

water: 0 sq km

comparison ranking: total 232

Area - comparative

about three-tenths the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


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


rugged volcanic formation; rocky coastline with cliffs


highest point: Palwala Valley Point on Big Ridge 347 m

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)

forest: 74.5% (2018 est.)

other: 25.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2022)

Population distribution

less than 50 inhabitants on Pitcairn Island, most reside near the village of Adamstown

Natural hazards

occasional tropical cyclones (especially November to March), but generally only heavy tropical storms; landslides

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

People and Society


total: 50 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 237


noun: Pitcairn Islander(s)

adjective: Pitcairn Islander

Ethnic groups

descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives


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


Seventh Day Adventist 100%

Population growth rate

0% (2014 est.)

comparison ranking: 195

Population distribution

less than 50 inhabitants on Pitcairn Island, most reside near the village of Adamstown


Environment - current issues

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


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

Land use

agricultural land: 0% (2011 est.)

forest: 74.5% (2018 est.)

other: 25.5% (2018 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Islands

conventional short form: Pitcairn Islands

etymology: named after Midshipman Robert PITCAIRN who first sighted the island in 1767

Government type

parliamentary democracy

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK


name: Adamstown

geographic coordinates: 25 04 S, 130 05 W

time difference: UTC-9 (4 hours behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after John ADAMS (1767–1829), the last survivor of the Bounty mutineers who settled on Pitcairn Island in January 1790

Administrative divisions

none (overseas territory of the UK)


none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday

Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926); Discovery Day (Pitcairn Day), 2 July (1767)


history: several previous; latest drafted 10 February 2010, presented 17 February 2010, effective 4 March 2010

Legal system

local island by-laws


see United Kingdom


18 years of age; universal with three years residency

Executive branch

chief of state: King CHARLES III (since 8 September 2022); represented by UK High Commissioner to New Zealand and Governor (nonresident) of the Pitcairn Islands Iona THOMAS (since 9 August 2022)

head of government: Mayor and Chairman of the Island Council Simon YOUNG (since 1 January 2023)

cabinet: none

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor and commissioner appointed by the monarch; island mayor directly elected by majority popular vote for a 3-year term; election last held on 9 November 2022 (next to be held no later than December 2025)

election results: Simon YOUNG elected mayor and chairman of the Island Council; Island Council vote - NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Island Council: 10 seats; (7 members - 5 councilors, the mayor, and the deputy mayor - elected by popular vote, and 3 ex officio non-voting members - the administrator, who serves as both the head of government and the representative of the governor of Pitcairn Islands, the governor, and the deputy governor; the councilors and the deputy mayor serve 2-year terms, the mayor serves a 3-year term, and the administrator is appointed by the governor for an indefinite term)

elections: last held on 6 November 2019 (next to be held in - NA)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 5; composition - men 4, women 6, percent of women 60%

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Pitcairn Court of Appeal (consists of the court president, 2 judges, and the Supreme Court chief justice, an ex-officio member); Pitcairn Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 2 judges); note - appeals beyond the Pitcairn Court of Appeal are referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: all judges of both courts appointed by the governor of the Pitcairn Islands on the instructions of the British monarch through the Secretary of State; all judges can serve until retirement, normally at age 75

subordinate courts: Magistrate's Court

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (overseas territory of the UK)

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Pitcairn Islander coat of arms centered on the outer half of the flag; the green, yellow, and blue of the shield represents the island rising from the ocean; the green field features a yellow anchor surmounted by a bible (both the anchor and the bible were items found on the HMS Bounty); sitting on the crest is a Pitcairn Island wheelbarrow from which springs a flowering twig of miro (a local plant)

National anthem

name: "We From Pitcairn Island"

lyrics/music: unknown/Frederick M. LEHMAN

note: serves as a local anthem; as an overseas territory of the UK, "God Save the King" is official (see United Kingdom)


Economic overview

small South Pacific British island territorial economy; exports primarily postage stamps, handicraft goods, honey, and tinctures; extremely limited infrastructure; dependent upon UK and EU aid; recent border reopening post-COVID-19

Agricultural products

honey; wide variety of fruits and vegetables; goats, chickens; fish


postage stamps, handicrafts, beekeeping, honey


revenues: $746,000 (FY04/05)

expenditures: $1.028 million (FY04/05)

Exports - partners

Zambia 99%, Czechia 0%, UK 0%, US 0%, Australia 0% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

fertilizers, sulfur, refined petroleum, excavation machinery, ethylene polymers (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars

Imports - partners

Zambia 100%, NZ 0%, Brazil 0%, UAE 0%, UK 0% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

raw copper, refined copper, cobalt oxides and hydroxides, corn, soybean meal (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Exchange rates

New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1.416 (2017 est.)
1.4279 (2016 est.)
1.4279 (2015)
1.4279 (2014 est.)
1.2039 (2013 est.)


Telecommunication systems

general assessment: satellite-based phone services; rural connectivity a challenge; 2G services widespread; demand for mobile broadband due to mobile services providing Internet source; the launch of the Kacific-1 satellite in 2019 will improve telecommunications in the region (2020)

domestic: local phone service with international connections via Internet (2018)

international: country code - 872; satellite earth station - 1 Inmarsat

Broadcast media

satellite TV from Fiji-based Sky Pacific offering a wide range of international channels

Internet users

total: 37 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 96.2% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 234

Communications - note

satellite-based local phone service and broadband Internet connections available in all homes

Military and Security

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK