Pitcairn Islands
Pitkern Ailen
Cook islands flag (1983DD).png Coat of Arms of the Pitcairn Islands.svg
Anthem"Come ye Blessed"
"God Save the Queen"
(and largest city)
Official languages English, Pitkern
Ethnic groups  English people Polynesian, or mixed
Government ANZC Associate State
 -  Governor George Fergusson
 -  Mayor Mike Warren (Pitcairn Islands)
 -  Total 47 km2 
18.1 sq mi 
 -  2009 estimate 75 
 -  Density 1/km2 (197th)
2.7/sq mi
Currency Pitcairn Dollar and Barter

Pre-Doomsday History

The original settlers of the Pitcairn Islands were Polynesians who appear to have lived on Pitcairn and Henderson for several centuries. Although archaeologists believe that Polynesians were living on Pitcairn as late as the 15th century, the islands were uninhabited when they were discovered by Europeans. Ducie and Henderson Islands are believed to have been discovered by Europeans on 26 January 1606 by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, sailing for the Spanish crown, who named them La Encarnación ("The Incarnation") and San Juan Bautista ("Saint John the Baptist"), respectively. However, some sources express doubt about exactly which of the islands were visited and named by Queirós, suggesting that Queirós’ La Encarnación may actually have been Henderson Island, and San Juan Bautista may have been Pitcairn Island.

Ducie Island was rediscovered in 1791 by the British Captain Edwards aboard the HMS Pandora and named after Earl of Ducie, a captain in the British Royal Navy. It was annexed by Britain on 19 December 1902, and in 1938 it was formally incorporated into Pitcairn to become part of a single administrative unit (the "Pitcairn Group of Islands"). Henderson Island was rediscovered on 17 January 1819 by a British Captain James Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules. On 2 March 1819, Captain Henry King, sailing aboard the Elizabeth, landed on the island to find the king's colours already flying. His crew scratched the name of their ship into a tree, and for some years the island's name was Elizabeth or Henderson. Henderson Island was annexed by Britain and incorporated into Pitcairn in 1938. Oeno Island was discovered on 26 January 1824 by U.S. Captain George Worth aboard the whaler Oeno. On 10 July 1902, Oeno was annexed by Britain. It was incorporated into Pitcairn in 1938. Pitcairn Island itself was discovered on 3 July 1767 by the crew of the British sloop HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Philip Carteret (though according to some it had perhaps been visited by Queirós in 1606). It was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member who was the first to sight the island. Robert Pitcairn was the son of British Marine Officer John Pitcairn.

Carteret, who sailed without the newly invented accurate marine chronometer, charted the island at 25° 2’ south and 133° 21’ west of Greenwich, but although the latitude was reasonably accurate the longitude was incorrect by about 3°. This made Pitcairn difficult to find, as highlighted by the failure of Captain James Cook to locate the island in July 1773.

In 1790, nine of the mutineers from the Bounty and Tahitian companions (six men, 11 women and a baby), some of whom may have been kidnapped from Tahiti, settled on Pitcairn Island and set fire to the Bounty. The wreck is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay. The ship itself was discovered in 1957 by National Geographic explorer Luis Marden. Although the settlers were able to survive by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among the settlers. Alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills took the lives of most mutineers and Tahitian men. John Adams and Ned Young turned to the scriptures using the ship's Bible as their guide for a new and peaceful society. Young eventually died of an asthmatic infection. The Pitcairners also converted to Christianity; later they would convert from their existing form of Christianity to Seventh-day Adventism after a successful Adventist mission in the 1890s. After the rediscovery of Pitcairn, John Adams was granted amnesty for his mutiny.

The islanders reported that it was not until 27 December 1795 that the first ship since the Bounty was seen from the island, but as she did not approach the land, they could not make out to what nation she belonged. A second appeared some time in 1801, but did not attempt to communicate with them. A third came sufficiently near to see their habitations, but did not venture to send a boat on shore. The United States trading ship Topaz under the command of Mayhew Folger was the first to visit the island and communicate with them when they spent 10 hours at Pitcairn in February 1808. A report of Folger's find was forwarded to the Admiralty mentioning the mutineers and a more precise location of the island however, this rediscovery was not known to Sir Thomas Staines, who commanded a Royal Navy flotilla of two ships HMS Briton and HMS Tagus which found the island at 25° .4’ S (by meridian observation) on 17 September 1814. Staines sent a party ashore and wrote a detailed report for the Admiralty. The island became a British colony in 1838 and was among the first territories to extend voting rights to women. By the mid-1850s the Pitcairn community was outgrowing the island and its leaders appealed to the British government for assistance. They were offered Norfolk Island and on 3 May 1856, the entire community of 193 people set sail for Norfolk on board the Morayshire, arriving on 8 June after a miserable five-week trip. But after eighteen months on Norfolk, seventeen of the Pitcairners returned to their home island; five years later another twenty-seven did the same.

Since a population peak of 233 in 1937, the island had been suffering from emigration, primarily to New Zealand, leaving some fifty people living on Pitcairn on Doomsday.


The Pitcairn Islands were not a target on Doomsday nor were they aware of the horrid nuclear apocalypse for several weeks until a British Nuclear Submarine, HMS Swiftsure arrived desperate for food. The Submarine's crew informed the population of the events on Doomsday. After a few weeks the now famous Gathering Order reached the HMS Swiftsure it was decided for them to head towards Australia and bring news of the island's survival. However the Swiftsure never returned.

Post-Doomsday History

The Pitcairns were a proud independent people before Doomsday, however with Britain almost completely annihilated the Pitcairn Islands were left to their own devices. They soon became dependent on Tahiti and French Polynesia for the majority of their food and other supplies. Although the Pitcairns were grateful for the help they had received they felt that their national identity and independence was being taken away. In 1991 French Polynesia made contact with New Zealand and the Cook Islands. When the Cook Islands officially became an Associate State of The ANZC, they offered the Pitcairn Islands the opportunity to become part of the Cook Islands. The Pitcairns after much debate agreed to the Cook Islands offer with a few conditions; that they have equal representation in the government and that they have the right to leave the Cook Islands at anytime. The Cooks Islands agreed and on August 5th 1999 the Pitcairn Islands Officially became part of the Cook Islands thus making them an associate state of the ANZC.

Modern Times

Today the Pitcairn Islands maintain a modest standard of living. The ANZC set up a naval supply outpost in 2006 to better serve the ANZC's naval operations. The naval outpost has proven to be the cornerstone of the economy, providing over 60% of the jobs on the Islands.

See Also

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.