Population: 1,863 (2006 census)
Time: GMT plus 11.5hr
Currency: Australian dollar (A$)
Norfolk Island lies in the South Pacific, about 1,676km east of Sydney. The territory includes the uninhabited islands of Phillip and Nepean (7km and 1km south of the main island).
Area: 34.5 sq km
Main town: Kingston
Topography: Norfolk Island is steep and rocky, with sheer cliffs rising out of the sea; access is impossible, except at Kingston on the south side and at Cascade in the north.
Climate: Subtropical, with sea-breezes; equable. Average rainfall: 1,350mm a year.
Vegetation: Most of the island has been cleared for crops or pasture, but a national park was established in 198586 to protect the remaining native forest. Phillip Island forms part of the national park. The Norfolk Island pine remains a notable feature. There is a wide variety of native and introduced plants.
Wildlife: There is abundant birdlife, geckos, bats and turtles. The Norfolk green parrot, guavabird and boobook are unique to the territory.
Transport/Communications: There is about 80km of road, 53km sealed. There are ship services from Australia and New Zealand every few weeks, and regular air services from Brisbane and Sydney in Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. The international dialling code is 672.
Population: 1,863 (2006 census); population density 54 per sq km (2006); consists of islanders (that is, Pitcairn/Bounty descendants) and mainlanders (originally from Australia, New Zealand and Britain). The right of residence on Norfolk Island is strictly controlled.
Religion: Mainly Christians (Anglicans 37%).
Language: English, Nufka, a Polynesian dialect related to Pitcairnese.
Media: There are two weeklies: the independent Norfolk Islander and the official Norfolk Island Government Gazette.
The administration runs a local radio service (VL2NI Norfolk Island Radio) and the television service is privately owned (TVN). Television programmes are relayed via the AUSSAT satellite.
Education: Free and compulsory between age six and 15. There is a school Norfolk Island Central School under the authority of the New South Wales Education Department, taking pupils from kindergarten to Higher School Certificate level (year 12). In 1997 there were 318 pupils. Some bursaries are available, and there are some scholarships for vocational training outside the island. Greenwich University, a private distance-learning enterprise, opened in Norfolk Island in 1999.
Overview: Norfolk Island is a self-governing territory and exercises control over most of its economic activities and developments. The main economic activity is tourism. The territory offers the attractions of remoteness, conservation sites and the poignant remains of the old penal settlement. There are some 3035,000 visitors each year. External revenue is also gained through philatelic sales. No income tax is payable on income earned within the island.
There is agriculture for domestic consumption. The soil is fertile and there is also some commercial cultivation of plants and flowers. A programme to increase planting of Norfolk Island pine and to introduce eucalyptus trees is under way. Seed of the Norfolk Island pine is exported. There is also fishing for local consumption. Fish are plentiful, but so far efforts to establish a commercial industry have been hampered by the lack of a sheltered harbour.
The island was uninhabited in 1774, when Captain James Cook visited it and was impressed by the commercial potential of the native pines for ships masts. In the periods 1788 to 1814, and 1825 to 1855, the island was a penal settlement of notable severity. In 1855 the penal settlement was closed and the following year 194 people living on Pitcairn Island, which had become overpopulated, accepted an invitation from Queen Victoria to transfer to Norfolk Island. However, two small parties returned to Pitcairn. These Pitcairn Islanders were descended from the mutineers from The Bounty who had sailed from Tahiti to Pitcairn Island in 1790 together with their Tahitian wives.
Initially, Norfolk Island was a separate settlement but became a dependency of New South Wales in 1897 and was finally transferred to Australian administration in 1913.
There is an administrator, appointed by the governor-general of Australia and responsible to the minister for infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government. A legislative assembly with nine members elected for three years, established in 1979, has internal self-governing powers. An executive council is made up of members of the assembly who have ministerial-type responsibility. Proposed laws passed by the assembly go to the administrator for consent (or otherwise).