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Oceania, Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn Island, island in the central South Pacific Ocean, about midway between Australia and South America. It covers an area of 5 sq km (2 sq mi) and is the main island of a group of islands forming a dependency of the United Kingdom. This group also includes the uninhabited Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno islands and has a total area of 36 sq km (14 sq mi).

Pitcairn Island is of volcanic origin and is characterized by steep basaltic cliffs that rise abruptly from the sea. The island has fertile soil but no streams. Oranges and bananas and other crops are grown in the subtropical climate. Adamstown, the only village on the island, is on the northern coast, near Bounty Bay.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Polynesians may have lived on Pitcairn Island between the 12th century and the 15th century. The island was rediscovered in 1767 by British naval officer, Philip Carteret, and named for the sailor who first sighted it. The island was uninhabited in 1790, when it was occupied by mutineers of the HMS Bounty accompanied by a group of Polynesian men and women. The community was not discovered until 1808, when American whalers visited the island; at that time only one of the British sailors was still alive. In 1856, because of overpopulation, about 200 of the islanders were transferred at their own request to Norfolk Island, although a number of them returned afterward. In 1957 the remains of the Bounty were discovered on the southern end of the island. In 1970 Pitcairn was placed under the jurisdiction of the British high commissioner in New Zealand. Population (1991 estimate) 61.

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