Pitcairn Island Map
British naval officer Philip Carteret discovered Pitcairn Island in 1767, naming it after the sailor who first sighted the island. In 1790, Fletcher Christian led the mutineers of the British ship HMS Bounty to the island. They and their Tahitian companions settled there. A small number of their descendants still inhabit the island.
Fletcher Christian and eight other HMS Bounty mutineers — along with six Polynesian men, 12 women and a baby from Tahiti — made Pitcairn island famous in 1789 as their final home. In 1793 five of the mutineers, including Christian, and all the Polynesian men were killed in a revolt. Only John Adams survived past 1800. Outside contact was re-established with the arrival of an American ship in 1808. A small number of descendants remain on the island today.
LOCATION: About halfway between Peru and New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean.
AREA: 47 square kilometers, or about 1/3 the size of Washington, D.C. The main island, Pitcairn, is a rugged half crater of about 2 square miles girded by precipitous coastal cliffs rising 1,100 feet from the ocean.
POPULATION: Less than 50. Of four relatively close islands — Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Island — only Pitcairn is inhabited. Emigration to New Zealand has reduced the population from its peak of 233 in 1937. In 1831 the islanders were briefly sent to Tahiti, but soon returned. A number of them were also sent to Norfolk Island, where some remain. Others have migrated to New Zealand.
DISCOVERED: British naval officer Philip Carteret discovered Pitcairn Island in 1767, naming it after the sailor who first sighted the island. In 1790, Fletcher Christian led the mutineers of the British ship HMS Bounty to the island. They and their Tahitian companions settled there. Their descendants now populate the island.
GOVERNMENT: Overseas territory of the United Kingdom. Pitcairn was the first South Pacific island to come under British colonial power, and the last to remain so.
LANGUAGES: English (official) and Pitcairnese (a mixture of 18th century English and Tahitian)