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Norfolk Island (Norfuk: Norfuk Ailen) is an island in the Pacific Ocean that belongs to Australia. To the north of it lies New Caledonia, to the west Australia, and to the south New Zealand.

Geography

The Norfolk Island lies about 1400 kilometres east of the Australian continent and is part of the almost 1100 km long Norfolk Ridge, which stretches from New Caledonia to the south. The island is surrounded by inaccessible cliffs except for the southern area with the capital Kingston. The highest elevations of the island are the two mountains Bates (319 meters) and Pitt (318 meters). Beside the Norfolk island also the smaller, uninhabited islands Nepean and Phillip belong to the territory. Norfolk Island, like Phillip Island, is of volcanic origin and therefore offers fertile soil for agriculture. The largest city on the island is Burnt Pine.

Climate

The climate is subtropical with an average annual temperature of 19 °C and annual precipitation of 1350 mm. Cyclones are a particular danger, especially in the first months of the year.

Population

In 2016 the island had 1748 inhabitants, which corresponds to a population density of 51 inhabitants per square kilometre. The population consists of one third of the descendants of the Bounty mutineers (Pitcairner) and two thirds of Australians, New Zealanders and Polynesians who immigrated over time. There are often disputes between the two groups. While the descendants of the Pitcairns who moved to the island in 1856, who see themselves in the tradition of their ancestors, advocate a conservative policy with the independence of the Norfolk Island as their goal, the descendants of the immigrants are progressive and more cosmopolitan because of their origin – that is, they maintain close contacts with the mainland.

The majority of the population speaks English (45.5%), 40.9% still speak Norf’k-Pitcairn, a mixture of the English language of the 18th century and ancient Tahitian. Less than a third (29.5%) of the inhabitants belong to the Anglican Church, the rest to the Uniting Church in Australia (9.6%) and the Roman Catholic denomination (12.6%). 26.8% are atheists.

Politics

As an Australian territory, Norfolk Island is managed by the Ministry of Environment, Sports and Territories. The Norfolk Island Act of 1979, which gives the island a certain degree of autonomy, such as the establishment of its own legislature, police, judiciary and customs, is a valid constitution. The legal foundation is the Australian laws, and there are also a number of local ordinances. In public areas that are not regulated by Australian law, British law applies. Court bodies are the Supreme Court and a minor offence court, the Court of Petty Sessions.

Head of state is the British Queen Elizabeth II, Australia’s representative and the Crown on the island is the administrator appointed by the Australian Governor General (since 1 April 2017 Eric Hutchinson). Every three years, a nine-seat Parliament, the Norfolk Legislative Assembly, is elected by everyone over the age of 18. Each voter is entitled to nine equal votes, of which a maximum of four may be cast for each candidate. Parliament elects the Prime Minister, who heads a five-member government.

Economy

The most important economic factor of the country is tourism, which has brought the population a certain prosperity and above all a connection to the rest of the world. In particular, the restored buildings of the former convict settlement in Kingston (Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area) and the nature reserves that make up a quarter of the island (such as the bird reserve on Phillip Island, see also Norfolk Island National Park) are popular places to visit. The government’s decision to limit the maximum number of visitors guarantees high quality tourism all year round. The island can be reached via an airport; there are no real ports, only two moorings in Kingston and Cascade. The costly unloading with auxiliary ships leads to comparatively high prices for imported goods.

The second important economic sector is agriculture. The island is largely self-sufficient in cereals, fruit and vegetables, beef, poultry and eggs. The main exports are the seeds of the Norfolk Island’s characteristic silver firs, rhopalostylis palms, avocados and stamps of interest to philatelists all over the world. Customers can be found in the other Pacific states, Europe and Asia.