Saturday, August 20, 2005

History of Pitcairn Island

History of Pitcairn Island. This is a history of Pitcairn Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is best known as destination of the mutineers of the HMS Bounty in the 18th Century.

Wikipedia notes, "The Pitcairn Islands are a group of five islands, of which only Pitcairn Island - the largest - is inhabited, in the southern Pacific Ocean, the only remaining British colony in the Pacific. The islands are best known for being the home of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 50 inhabitants (from 9 families), Pitcairn is also famed for being the least populated country in the world (although it is not a sovereign nation)."

Pictairn Island has been in the news a lot lately as a large portion of the men on the island have been accused of sex crimes. A few have been convicted and others are awaiting trial. With such a small population to begin with, this has created hardships for both the social structure of the island community and for the local economy.

From the site:

Stone axes, remains of carved stone pillars similar to those of Easter Island, and skeletons with a pearl-mussel beneath the head have been found in the island, though it was uninhabited when discovered by Philip Carteret in 1767. Pitcairn was the name of the midshipman who first observed it.

The island was destined to become the scene of a curious social experiment. On the 28th of April 1789 a mutiny broke out on board the ship the Bounty, then employed by the British government in conveying young bread-fruit trees from Tahiti to the West Indies. The commander Lieutenant William Bligh, was set adrift in the launch with part of the crew, but managed to make his way to Timor in the Malay Archipelago. The twenty-five mutineers at first all returned to Tahiti. Some remained, and six of these were ultimately court-martialled in England, three being executed in 1792. Meanwhile in 1790 a party consisting of Fletcher Christian, the leader of the mutiny, eight Englishmen, six Polynesian men and twelve Polynesian women had taken possession of Pitcairn Island and burned the Bounty.

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