Norfolk island

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Norfolk Island is a small populated island in the Pacific Ocean, east of Australia, North West of New Zealand. Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia. The island's current population averages about 2,000 people. An interesting fact is that only three surnames are used by most residents.

Discovery

Norfolk Island was discovered by the great British navigator, CAPT James Cook in 1774. Cook was impressed with the size of the native pine trees, subsequently named Norfolk Pines. Indeed, it was these pines that constituted one of the reasons for settling nearby Australia.

Early years

In 1788 those convicts who behaved well in the New South Wales penal settlement were sent to Norfolk Island to a separate colony primarily to protect the island from French settlement. This settlement was closed in 1814 and the prisoners returned to New South Wales. The second settlement (from 1825) was also a prison colony, but for the worst repeat offenders from the New South Wales and Tasmanian prison colonies.

The prison colony also closed (in 1855), and the island was used to move the thriving population of descendants of the Bounty mutineers from the much smaller Pitcairn Island in 1856. This small group is the reason for the small number of surnames.

Recent history

An airstrip was built on the island during World War II, and it was a staging and refuelling point for aircraft flying from New Zealand and Australia to the Pacific Theatre. The major industry is tourism, with regular flights to both Australia and New Zealand.

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