Pitcairn Island is one of the most isolated islands in the South Pacific. Despite numerous announcements and much controversy, an airport has yet to be constructed on Pitcairn Island, and getting there involves a two-day sea voyage from Mangareva in French Polynesia. Cruise ships call occasionally between Easter Island and Tahiti, but their passengers only go ashore for a few hours, weather permitting.
Pitcairn Island's history is entwined in the famous story of the mutiny on the Bounty. First sighted by the son of Major Pitcairn aboard HMS Swallow in 1767, Pitcairn Island was forgotten until 1789 when the Bounty mutineers led by Fletcher Christian decided it would be the perfect hideout from the Royal Navy. They settled there, burning their ship in Bounty Bay on January 15, 1790. By 1800 all of the mutineers except John Adams had died.
Pitcairn Island was only rediscovered by the outside world in 1808 when an American sealer happened to call for water. The 50 native inhabitants on Pitcairn Island today are all descended from the Bounty mutineers and their 18 Polynesian followers. In 1838 the island group shown on our Pitcairn Islands map was declared a British colony, a status maintained until this time.
The local economy depends heavily on British government aid, although money is also earned through the sale of Pitcairn stamps and coins. Family-made handicrafts are sold to cruise ship passengers. If you'd care to visit Pitcairn Island and neighboring Henderson Island, you'll have a chance to do so in June 2006 when the MV Bounty Bay sails from Mangareva on a two-week cruise to the Pitcairn Islands.
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