General issues: British colony 1940-1981, British dependency 1981-2002, British overseas territory 2002-Present
Country name on general issues: Pitcairn Islands
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1940-1967, 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1967-Present
Population: 163 in 1940, 56 in 2014
Political history Pitcairn Islands
Pitcairn Islands is located in the south Pacific Ocean. As a political entity, Pitcairn Islands consists of Pitcairn Island, Ducie, Henderson Island and Oeno. Prior to European settlement, Pitcairn Island was inhabited by Polynesians – at the time of European settlement it was uninhabited. The first European to sight the island was the British captain Philip Carteret in 1767. In 1790, the island was settled by the mutineers of the HMS Bounty, who brought with them a group of Tahitians. The mutineers burned the HMS Bounty and lived isolated on the island, until discovered in 1808.
In 1838, Pitcairn Island was made a British colony. The uninhabited Ducie, Henderson Island and Oene were annexed by the British in 1902 and attached to Pitcairn Island in 1938, thus forming the political entity of Pitcairn Islands. Having gone through a number of administrative changes since 1838, the high commissioner of New Zealand acts as governor of Pitcairn Islands since 1970. The status changed from colony to British dependency in 1981 and to British overseas territory in 2002.
Economically, the population is dependent on subsistence agriculture and fishing. Tourism and the sale of handicrafts and postage stamps are additional sources of income. The population grew from 27 in 1790 to 193 in 1856, which was more than the island could sustain and thus part of the population moved to Norfolk Island. Even today, half of the population of Norfolk Island traces its roots to settlers from Pitcairn. Subsequently, the population of Pitcairn grew again to reach a peak of 250 in 1936. Since then, the population has declined due to immigration to, mainly, New Zealand.
Postal history Pitcairn Islands
The first regular postal services were established in 1921 – using hand stamps reading ‘Posted at Pitcairn Island – No stamps available’. Stamps of New Zealand were used since 1927. The first stamps for specific use in Pitcairn were introduced in 1940. The stamps issued by Pitcairn are a blend of themes with local interest and – a significant number – with themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.