Places: Pitcairn Island

April 9, 2009

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On April 28, 1787, Fletcher Christian led the crew of the HMS Bounty in a mutiny against Captain William Bligh. Bligh and those loyal to him were set adrift on a small boat. Bligh was eventually able to report the mutiny to British authorities.

In an effort to evade the British navy, Christian and eight other crew members, along with some Tahitians who had been kidnapped, settled on the remote Pitcairn Island. After landing on Pitcairn Island, the Bounty was intentionally burned, marooning everyone on this remote island.

Incredibly, Pitcairn Island is still populated by the descendants of the mutineers. The population swelled from twenty seven people who originally landed on the island until the population threatened to outgrow the island in the 1850s (Pitcairn Island is just 1.75 square miles in size). In fact, the entire population moved to relatively close Norfolk Island (only a five week trip by boat). Within a few years, many of these people moved back to Pitcairn Island, and the population grew once again, peaking at 233 in 1937. Today, the population hovers around fifty, as many residents have chosen to emigrate off the island.

Pitcairn Island is as inaccessible as a place can be in this current age. It is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and does not have an airstrip or a harbor that is suitable for ships. Anything that needs to be transferred is transferred via a longboat, which travels from the island to a nearby ship. Visitors from smaller boats visit the island occasionally, as well.

Pitcairn exports honey and handcrafted items. A rather significant segment of the island’s revenue comes from the sale of postage stamps to collectors as well as domain registrations under the .pn top level domain. People can also subscribe to the local newspaper, either online or in print. The printed edition can take a while to arrive. Interestingly, all of the homes on the island have internet access (a single satellite connection that is networked to all the houses).

The stories from Pitcairn are not all happy, of course. There are reports that sexual promiscuity is common and that men engage is sex with very young girls – and that these things have been occurring for a very long period of time. In 2004, seven men from Pitcairn were put on trial for rape and other charges. Six of the men were found guilty. Five of them have subsequently been released to home detention.

So the next time you’re thinking of a trip to a remote location, swing by Pitcairn Island and tell them I sent you!  If you’re trying to get away from the rat race, there are very few options that are better.

Wikipedia was a source for this article.

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