The Pitcairn Islands are a set of four islands in the middle of nowhere, or more specifically, the Pacific Ocean. The main island (Pitcairn) is the only one that is inhabited by humans, and as of January 2014, there were only 49 of them there.
Pitcairn's remoteness is enhanced by only being accessible by sea and by only having one small dock that is only accessible by small boats. It's also expensive to get to since the low numbers of people who want to visit give the boats that do go there monopoly power. The main ship, the Claymore II, only goes to Pitcairn every 3 months, costs NZ$5000 and leaves from Mangareva, Gambier Islands (French Polynesia). To get there you need to take a once a week flight from Tahiti.
The islands were settled by 9 mutineers of the HMS Bounty and 18 Polynesians that had accompanied them (6 men, 11 women, 1 baby girl), where they ended up murdering each other over a number of years, mostly over relationship drama. As you can guess, there was quite a lot of inbreeding due to the small founding population.
Another consequence of being tied to the British Empire is that the Pitcairn Islands have a legal system which is absurdly out of proportion to their size. There is a Magistrates Court, which operates on Pitcairn, but above that there is a Supreme Court and a Court of Appeal, both of which operate in New Zealand, and appeals from the Court of Appeal may be made to the Privy Council, in England.
This was all theoretical until the 2000s, when it was discovered that a significant proportion of the population had committed sexual assault, and it was necessary to put them on trial. (If there was ever anywhere that the term rape culture could be applied to, it would have been Pitcairn around this time.) The trial cost the United Kingdom millions of pounds and the result was appealed through every level of the court structure, leaving the government to deal with arguments such as "You can't get me, the Pitcairn Islands seceded from the British Empire!" and "You never gave me a copy of the law. How was I to know that sexual assault was illegal?". These arguments were all rejected.
Despite its extremely small population, the Pitcairn Islands are one of the only South Pacific jurisdictions to have a freedom of information law. You don't have to have any connection to Pitcairn to make a FOI request, so if there's ever anything that you want to know about this small island, then this is a great way to find out.
As for democracy, there is an "Island Council" elected by the islanders, but this only has an advisory role, and all laws must be approved by the governor, who doesn't actually live on the island, but to his credit does visit sometimes.
The Pitcairn Islands are actively encouraging immigration, due to concerns over its low population. If you ever want to move to another part of the world, then Pitcairn is probably the easiest place to get permission to move, if you don't mind living in the middle of nowhere among convicted sex offenders, such as the mayor, Shawn Christian.
- Freedom of Information Ordinance 2012
- Pitcairn Islander guilty of child sex January 10, 2007 12:00AM. The Australian.