Pitcairn Islands- One of the hardest place to get on Earth

By Paul Pinkerton
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The Pitcairn Islands are a group of four volcanic islands – Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands situated in the southern Pacific Ocean.

 

The islands are the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. The total land area of the islands is 18 square miles (46.6 square kilometers) and only the second largest – Pitcairn that spreads on only 2.2 miles (3.6 kilometers) from east to west is inhibited.

 

 

Location of the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific Ocean. TUBS CC BY-SA 3.0
Location of the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific Ocean. TUBS CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Map of Pitcairn Islands. Hobe CC BY-SA 3.0
Map of Pitcairn Islands. Hobe CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Pitcairn Island
Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn has only 50 permanent inhabitants that originate from just four different families. This makes the island the least populous national jurisdiction in the world.

 

 

Most of the inhabitants are the descendants of nine Bounty mutineers and the Polynesians (generally Tahitians) who accompanied them. They settled on the island in 1790 and set fire to their only vessel “Bounty” which brought them there. The wreck is still visible under the water in Bounty Bay.

 

The Bounty mutineers
The Bounty mutineers

Before the Henderson and Ducie Islands were discovered in 1606 by Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, a Portuguese sailor who sailed for the Spanish crown, the Pitcairn islands were inhabited by Polynesians who lived only on Henderson, Pitcairn Island and Mangareva Island which is 250 miles (400 kilometers) away.

Despite the distances between the islands, the islanders traded goods traveling with canoes from one island to another and had strong social ties that relied on these economic exchanges.

 

Pitcairn Landing.   Makemake CC BY-SA 3.0
Pitcairn Landing.   Makemake CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Satellite photo of Pitcairn Island
Satellite photo of Pitcairn Island

 

Henderson Island shelter. Makemake CC BY-SA 3.0
Henderson Island shelter. Makemake CC BY-SA 3.0

When certain significant natural resources were exhausted, it caused an end to the social relations and the exchange of goods, and this led to a period of civil war which began on Mangareva.

The war caused the extinction of the inhabitants on Pitcairn and Henderson Islands. So, when the islands were discovered by the Europeans in the 17th century, they were uninhibited.

In 1791, on a mission to find the Bounty mutineers, Royal Navy Captain Edwards rediscovered Ducie Island while sailing on HMS Pandora. The island was named after a Royal Navy captain, Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 3rd Baron Ducie.

In 1838, Pitcairn Island became a British colony and was among the first territories where the voting rights were extended to women. Only a decade later, the community was outgrowing the island. The British government offered the inhabitants Norfolk Island and in 1856 the entire Pitcairn population of 193 people left for Norfolk. However, after only 18 months, 17 Pitcairners returned to their home island. In the five following years, 27 other also returned.

 

Bounty Bay in the 1970s
Bounty Bay in the 1970s

 

View of the east side of Pitcairn
View of the east side of Pitcairn

 

The West side of the island. wileypics -CC BY-SA 2.0
The West side of the island. wileypics -CC BY-SA 2.0

Today the island has around 60 inhabitants and offers free land to anyone who would like to move there. But who would love to be cut off from the rest of the world? It is not like moving to another country with frequent transport, where you can fly in and out. You might need to wait for three months to get to the island. And off of it, in the case of an emergency.

Since it is a British territory, we will use London as a hypothetical departure place. From London, you need to fly to Los Angeles and from there find a connecting flight to Tahiti which in total would around, if not more than 24 hours. Then, another flight from Tahiti to the closest island to Pitcairn with an airport which is Mangareva. This flight lasts for five and half hours, but the problem is that this trip happens only once a week. Although staying in Tahiti for a week and waiting for that flight might not be a bad thing.

 

Adamstown, the only settlement in the islands. Makemake CC BY-SA 3.0
Adamstown, the only settlement in the islands. Makemake CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Then, when you’ve done your flights you have to take a boat to Pitcairn which is still another 330 miles (531 kilometers) away. But the boats are less than frequent. If you miss the boat, you’ll have to wait three months for the next one. When you finally get on the boat you’re only about 32 hours away from Pitcairn. This makes the island one of the hardest places to get on Earth.

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