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Speziell Partner Pitcairn Islands
 
Welcome to the official web site of the Pitcairn Islands Office.
 

The Pitcairn Islands (Pitkern : Pitkern Ailen), officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Islands, are a group of four islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British overseas territory (formerly British colony), the last remaining in the Pacific. Only Pitcairn Island — the second largest — is inhabited.

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 story is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only 45 inhabitants (from nine families), Pitcairn is also notable for being the least populated jurisdiction in the world (although it is not a sovereign nation). The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation includes the Pitcairn Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

The original settlers of the Pitcairn Islands (Ducie, Henderson, Oeno and Pitcairn) were Polynesians who appear to have lived on Pitcairn and Henderson for several centuries. However, 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 Fernandez de Quiros, who named them La Encarnación and San Juan Bautista respectively. However, some sources express doubt about exactly which of the islands were visited and named by Quiros, suggesting that Quiros’ 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 Capt. Edwards aboard H.M.S. Pandora, and named after Baron Francis Ducie, a captain in the 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 district (the "Pitcairn Group of Islands").

Henderson Island was rediscovered on 17 January 1819 by British Capt. Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules. On the 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 interchangeably. Henderson Island was annexed by Britain and incorporated into Pitcairn in 1938.

Oeno Island was discovered on the 26 January 1824 by U.S. Captain George Worth aboard the whaler Oeno. On the 10 July 1902 Oeno was annexed by Britain. It was incorporated into Pitcairn in 1938.

Pitcairn Island itself was discovered on July 3, 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 Quiros in 1606). It was named after Midshipman Robert Pitcairn, a fifteen-year-old crewmember who was the first to sight the island. (Pitcairn was the son of British Marine Officer John Pitcairn, who was second in command of British forces stationed in Massachusetts during the American Revolutionary War and was fatally wounded in one of the defining battles of that war, the Battle of Bunker Hill.)

In 1790, the mutineers of HMAV Bounty and their Tahitian companions, 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; however they would later convert from their existing form of Christianity to Adventism after a successful Adventist mission in the 1890s. When the American sailing ship Topaz found Pitcairn again, John Adams was granted amnesty for his mutiny.

The island became a British colony in 1838. 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 has been suffering from emigration, primarily to New Zealand, leaving some fifty people living on Pitcairn.

There are allegations of a long history and tradition of sexual abuse of girls as young as 7, which culminated in 2004 in the charging of seven men living on Pitcairn, and another six now living abroad, with sex-related offences, including rape. On October 25, 2004, six men were convicted, including Steve Christian, the island's mayor at the time. See Pitcairn rape trial of 2004. The British government has decided to set up a prison for only the island, and spend an annual budget of $950,000, after the six men lost their final appeal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitcairn_Island