, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 193–200 | Cite as

The End Ever Nigh: Contemporary population change on Pitcairn island

  • Connell John 


Pitcairn is the smallest colony in the world, isolated and remote in the South Pacific, with a population of less than sixty people. Its size and isolation have prevented economic development, limited social services and resulted in dependence on emigration, remittances and British aid, with its major export being postage stamps, ensuring that every man and some women are government officials. The colony can only continue to exist through sustained high levels of aid. Steady post-war population decline has resulted in constant concern that the remaining aging population is too small to be a viable community and must shortly be evacuated. Although less remote islands have smaller populations, demographic models are of limited use for predicting population survival since the viability of the island is wholly dependent on external subsidies. By most standards Pitcairn is an anachronism in the modem world yet, because it is a separate territory, its potential economic and strategic value, however small, ensures that the apparent high per capita cost of maintaining its viability is in reality also very small. The end of the era of decolonisation has confounded predictions of an imminent end to the population of Pitcairn.


Atoll Return Migration Cook Island Remote Island Postage Stamp 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Connell John 
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Geogr.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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