Is Easter Island on Your Wishlist?
Remote and mysterious Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as the Polynesians call it, lies 2,300 miles off the Chilean mainland coast. It’s not particularly easy or affordable to get to, and so is not really on the South Pacific tourist trail. Its relative isolation has added to its mystique, and gives bragging rights to any intrepid traveler who does make it there. Of course, its main drawing card is the ancient moai, 900-odd monumental stone-carved statues standing enigmatically along the coastal perimeter like sentinels guarding over the land. Who built them, how did they build them and why did they build them? Theories are aplenty (some think it was aliens!) but nobody knows for sure. Is Easter Island on your wishlist? Check out this one minute video that highlights some of the amazing features of this stunning volcanic island.
Easter Island Facts
Here are some other interesting facts and unsolved mysteries about Easter Island:
- Easter Islanders had their own unique system of written language, long before other Pacific Islanders thought to scribble down their communications.
- The Rapa Nui people farmed sweet potatoes as a food staple. However, sweet potatoes aren’t native to the area. They come from the Americas. How did they manage to sail over 2300 miles to the continent to acquire the seeds?
- The statues were probably carved out of Rano Raraku’s volcanic walls, but how did they drag them to the site and prop them upright? Some of these moai stand over 30 ft tall and weigh over 80 tons!
- It is estimated that 50 to 150 people were needed to drag the statues across the island to their ahu platforms.
- More than just stone heads, most moai also have torsos, and some are kneeling figures.
- The island got the name Easter Island from Dutch captain Jacob Roggeveen, the first European to visit the island on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722.
- In the 1950s, Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl of Kon-Tiki fame set out on a makeshift raft to prove that this island could have been settled by Indians from South America. He proved that the arduous journey was indeed possible. However, archaeological, ethnographic and linguistic data do not support his hypothesis that these were the origins of the inhabitants.
- In 1888, Easter Island became a special territory of Chile. Today, many of the islanders want independence.
- In 1977, the population of Easter Island dwindled to just 111 people. Today, there are about 6000 residents of Easter Island today, 60 per cent of them descendants of native Rapa Nui.
- Easter Island became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Have You Actually Visited Easter Island?
Tell us your impressions in the comments below.