Capital city: Adamstown
Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Language: English and Pitcairnese
GDP per capita: USD$2,667
The Pitcairn Islands are a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean (being Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands). The four islands are spread over several hundred miles of ocean and only have a total land area of about 47 square km. With a population of only 57, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world.
Although the Polynesians were the earliest settlers on Pitcairn (for several centuries), the islands were uninhabited when they were rediscovered by Europeans. In 1606 Ducie and Henderson Islands were discovered by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, sailing for the Spanish Crown. Pitcairn Island was sighted on 3 July 1767 by Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crew member of British sloop HMS Swallow.
In 1790, nine of the mutineers from the Bounty (along with eighteen native Tahitian men and women), settled on Pitcairn Island. Although the Pitcairn islanders reported seeing passing ships in 1795 and 1801, it wasn’t until 1808 that a ship landed (being the American sealing ship Topaz, under Mayhew Folger).
Pitcairn Island became a British colony in 1838. The Pitcairn community was outgrowing the island, so on 3 May 1856, the entire population of 193 people set sail for Norfolk Island on board the Morayshire. After 18 months on Norfolk Island, 17 of the Pitcairners decided to return to their home island (with another 27 five years later).
The only permanently inhabited island, Pitcairn, is accessible only by boat through Bounty Bay. Henderson Island, covering about 86% of the territory's total land area, is nearly inaccessible due to its outer shores being steep limestone cliffs covered by sharp coral. As Pitcairn Island does not have an airport, airstrip or seaport; the islanders rely on longboats to ferry people and goods between visiting ships and shore through Bounty Bay.
The Pitcairn government's attempts to attract migrants have so far been unsuccessful. Migrants are required to have at least NZ$30,000 savings and build their own house (at a cost of NZ$140,000). Although there are over 700 inquiries per year, not one formal settlement application has been received. Although the low cost of living is a benefit (only NZ$10,000 pa), the lack of jobs and isolation, are deal breakers for potential migrants.
The Pitcairn Islands have no income taxes of any sort (for individuals and companies).
"You’d be stupid not to try to cut your tax bill and those that don’t are stupid in business"
- Bono: U2