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Norfolk Island

Official Country Name: Norfolk Island
Region: Oceania
Population: 1,892
Language(s): English, Norfolk
Literacy Rate: NA

Covering only 14 square miles, Norfolk Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles northeast of Sydney, Australia. It was discovered in 1774 by British explorer James Cook and, from 1788 to 1856, the island was used as a penal settlement for convicts from Australia. In 1856 the island was turned over to the Pitcairners. The Pitcairners started the first free settlement, and the people living on Norfolk Island today are their descendants.

According to a 1996 census, the permanent population is 1,470 people. Tourism is the main source of income, but people also grow bananas, citrus fruits, and vegetables.

Norfolk Island was part of the colonies of New South Wales of Australia. Queen Victoria of England ordered that it be a separate colony of the British Crown between 1856 and 1896, when the Pitcairners governed it. The Pitcairners believed in equal suffrage, and they were the first people ever to afford women the vote. In 1979, the Norfolk Island Act established a legislative assembly and executive council to handle local government matters. The act preserved Australia's overall responsibility for the island.

Norfolk Island Central School teaches grades K-12. Enrollments were expected to be 320 K-12 students in the year 2001. The school also has 20 teachers; there are eight infant through primary teachers, including two executive teachers and two release face-to-face teachers. The remaining 12 teachers are secondary teachers, including 1 head teacher. A counselor is also employed for K-8 students.

Secondary students undertake subjects such as English, math, science, history, and geography. Electives include woodworking, metalworking, food technology, textiles and design, business studies, and sports. The school has 2 school buses, which were donated by the parents and citizens.

Greenwich University moved to Norfolk Island in 1998. It is a small graduate school with high academic standards in teaching, scholarship, and research that welcomes students from all countries of the world.

Norfolk Island is very small; therefore, its education system is just big enough to educate its modest population, though Greenwich University has brought the island some notice from the outside world. Unfortunately, the island was settled with turmoil, and Norfolk Islanders still battle to regain full self-government from Australia.


Census of Population and Housing. "Administration of Norfolk Island Census," 1996. Available from www.nf/census/sectiona.html.

Greenwich University, January 2001. Available from http://www.university.edu.nf.

Norfolk Island Central School, February 2001. Available from http://www.school.edu.nf.

—Deanna Edens

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