Adamstown Commonwealth Walkway

Pitcairn Islands / The Pacific

PITCAIRN ISLANDS Pitcairn is the chief of a number of rugged, isolated volcanic islands in the south-central Pacific Ocean, 1,350 miles southeast of Tahiti.   It has been described as ‘probably the world’s most remote, inhabited spot’, with no airstrip, no safe harbour, and no scheduled shipping service.  The other three islands are Henderson (now a UNESCO World Heritage site), Ducie, and Oeno.  Henderson Island accounts for 86% of the land area, but only Pitcairn Island is inhabited.  Pitcairn itself is a rugged half-crater rising to around 1,100 feet and surrounded by coastal cliffs.  Pitcairn was originally inhabited by Polynesians before being discovered by Europeans. It was founded in 1767, and the naval captain, Philip Carteret, named it Pitcairn for the sailor who first sighted it.  It was settled in 1790 by mutineers from HMS Bounty, and their Tahitian companions and became a British settlement under the British Settlements Act of 1887. The islanders descend from the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian Polynesian consorts. The population grew, and the island’s limited natural resources increasingly became a source of concern.  Leaders of the community proposed mass emigration to Tahiti or to Australia, but after the islanders had been resettled on Tahiti (1831), many grew dissatisfied and returned to Pitcairn. Thereafter the island became a port of call for whalers and passenger ships steaming between the United States and Australia.  In 1856, due to overpopulation, some of the islanders were removed to Norfolk Island, east of Australia, and to this day the mutineers’ descendants remain divided between the two places.  The official languages are English and Pitkern (a mixture of Tahitian and 18th-century English).  In addition, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world.   As of January 2020, there were only 43 permanent inhabitants, the one food shop on the island is briefly open three times a week.   Since 2010 the islands have been administered by a non-resident Governor (usually the British High Commissioner in Wellington, New Zealand), in consultation with the Island Council which oversees internal affairs.   Capital The Pitcairn Islands capital is Adamstown which is located above Bounty Bay and accessed by the appropriately named road: ‘The Hill of Difficulty’.  This is one of the few places where longboats can land. The inhabitants live on fish, crops, garden produce, coffee, bananas and sweet potatoes. There is also some beekeeping. The sale of postage stamps, coins, and local products such as honey to passing ships brings cash income, as does tourism.  Fun Facts
  • Its 40 Mile Reef is the deepest and most well-developed coral reef on record.
  • At some sites, visibility can reach a staggering 75 meters. 
  • The sea surrounding the Pitcairns boast 69 seamounts - underwater mountains formed by submarine volcanoes. 

3.7 miles / 6 kilometres

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