Saturday, March 30, 2013
Pitcairn Island is a tiny speck of land located nearly dead in the center of the southern Pacific Ocean. Its closest neighbors are the Gambier Islands and Tahiti to the West, but even these are several hundred miles away. The island, which is the last remaining British territory in the Pacific, has a standing population of some fifty people, many of whom are descended from crewmembers of the famed HMS Bounty. In 1789, the Bounty was the setting for a now-legendary mutiny, when crewmembers enchanted by the idyllic life of the native Pacific islanders overthrew their commander, burned their ship in a nearby bay, and settled on Pitcairn. Today, the descendants of those sailors mostly make their living off of farming, fishing, and selling their extremely rare postage stamps to collectors, but even with modern transportation they still remain one of the most isolated communities in the world. There is no airstrip on the island, and getting there from the mainland requires hopping a ride on a shipping boat out of New Zealand, a journey that can take as long as ten days.