Free Land in the Middle of the Pacific? Sign Me Up
As I am liable to do from time to time, I was looking up random places around the globe the other day and stumbled across a brand new one that has me rather intrigued.
Now, along with Reykjavik (the capital of Iceland); Barrow, Alaska (the northernmost city in the United States, which formally changed its name to Utqiaġvik in 2016); Australia (just, like, the whole continent) and a seemingly endless list of other destinations I want to travel to in this lifetime, I have added the Pitcairn Islands.
Where are those, you might ask? And even if you didn't, I'm going to tell you anyway.
The Pitcairn Islands, a group of four volcanic islands — Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno — that constitute the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific Ocean, are more than 3,400 miles southeast of Hawaii's Big Island; more than 3,600 miles west of Santiago, Chile; and more than 3,300 miles east of Auckland, New Zealand.
In other words, if you're having a hard time picturing this: in the middle of the Pacific, surrounded by lots and lots of salty water.
As a means of putting into perspective just how isolated these islands are, allow me to describe the only way you can get to them. For starters, you need to get yourself to Auckland, Los Angeles or Tokyo and from one of those three cities, book a flight to Tahiti in French Polynesia. (Tahiti, by the way, is a little over 2,500 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island.)
From Tahiti, you must board a flight that only takes off on Tuesdays — Air Tahiti Tuesday, as it were — which will take you to Mangareva, the largest of the Gambier Islands (also part of French Polynesia). And then comes the really fun part: boarding a ship called MV Claymore II for a 32-hour ocean crossing that will at last see you to Pitcairn Island, the only inhabited island of the group.
(All this information comes from www.visitpitcairn.pn, where you can find many more details concerning the travel logistics.)
This is all necessary, of course, because Pitcairn Island is not accessible by plane — the landscape is much too hilly and steep for this to enter the realm of possibility. And the relative difficulty in getting there is only one reason this little glob of land in the middle of the world's largest ocean sounds so attractive!
Adamstown, the only settlement on the only inhabited island, has a population of less than 60 people, making it the second smallest capital in the world. Only King Edward Point in the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands has it beat, with a population of right around 20. What's more, the population of Adamstown consists mostly, if not entirely, of the descendants of British mutineers and Tahitians who overthrew the captain of the Royal Navy's HMS Bounty in 1789. The wreck of the vessel is an historical landmark located in the island's Bounty Bay.
Now, get this: if you wanted to go a step further and immigrate to the island rather than just visit, the local government is literally giving away land for free. Anyone wishing to settle on the island only need provide evidence that their assets total at least $30,000 NZD (a little under $21,000 USD). Per the immigration website linked earlier in this paragraph, sustaining yourself on the island would cost around $10,000/year.
However, with work opportunities as limited as they are on the island, it would be wise to have money coming from somewhere outside of your life in the middle of the ocean.
Don't get me wrong, though: the government definitely wants you to come. "Pitcairn Island is committed to maintaining a vibrant community and attracting new migrants," so says a statement posted on the island's aforementioned immigration website, which I will kindly link to again right here. They've had a rough go of attracting new settlers in recent years, according to this dude who wrote an article for The Telegraph a couple years ago. He mentions that the population peaked at around 200 just before World War II.
There is probably a 0.00000000000001 percent chance I will ever live on Pitcairn Island, and I'm sure the same goes for you, dear reader.
But might a visit be in the cards? Perhaps not anytime soon, but let a ramblin' man dream, okay?
P.S. Here's a list of the five countries it's easiest for Americans to expatriate to, in case you were interested.