Easter Island - Tourist Information

May 2018 ยท 4 minute read

Easter Island also known as “Rapa Nui” or “Isla de Pascua” is a mysterious open air museum with massive stone statutes (Moai) dotting the coastline around the island. Officially the Island is a territory of Chile and one of the worlds most isolated regions, situated on a triangle of volcanic rock in the South Pacific more than 2,000 kilometers from the nearest population centers of Tahiti and Chile.

The island is known among the world’s most sacred sites, famous for its giant stone busts, built centuries before, they signify the history of this stunning rise and fall of an isolated Egyptian civilization.

Locally today it’s known as Rapa Nui.

There’s been much controversy and confusion as to the origin of the Easter Islanders. Some believe Peruvians constructed the statues, some feel that the Island is a slice of a continent that was lost. DNA has proven that Polynesians were the earliest settlers arriving around 400 AD from the west in massive boats. This is regarded as remarkable given that Easter Island is such a great distance from other land. Legend has it they were looking for additional property as their very own island has been swallowed by the sea.

The island was a paradise and the islanders prospered – archaeological evidence proves that the island was covered with a variety of numerous trees, including the largest palm tree species in the world. The sailors used the bark and wood for fabric, rope, and canoes. Birds were plentiful and provided food. The climate was mild and the water provided an abundance of fish and oysters.

Their faith developed using its centerpiece the giant moai, or heads, that will be the island’s most distinctive feature today. The moai, are scattered around the island and supposedly depicted their ancestors. This was probably considered a boon or a watchful eye on each small village. The ruins of the Rano Raraku crater, the rock quarry where hundreds of moai sit now, show how these figures were significant. The birdman culture (as seen from the petroglyphs) was clearly the islanders’ fascination with their ability to travel to distant lands.

In addition to the figurines, petroglyphs (stone carvings), traditional wood carvings, tapa (barkcloth), crafts, tattooing, series figures, dance and songs, the islanders owned the Rongorongo script, the only written language in Oceania. As time went on confidence in their faith was dropped since arguments broke out.

At its summit the island had over 10,000 population, straining the capability of it’s ecosystem. Because of this lush palm forests were destroyed for agriculture along with the gigantic figurines, and resources became more scarce. The once thriving advanced social society descended into a bloody civil war, and apparently cannibalism since they ran from food sources. The islanders ripped down the statues, that today have been re erected by archaeological efforts.

Through contact with western culture, disease and captivity the island population by around 1800 had fallen to approximately 110. Around 1888 after the annexation of Chile the inhabitants climbed to more than 2,000. Regardless of the Chilean presence there is still a powerful Polynesian identity.

The Rapanui people are incredibly friendly and the landscape is amazing with its volcanic craters, lava formations, beaches, brilliant blue water, and archaeological sites.

Accessibility is from Chile and Tahiti, tourism around the island is conducted by the Rapanui themselves. There are tour isla de pascua of package tours and respective hotels and guesthouses on the Isle. There are chances to remain in a private home, a great way to experience the island and culture.

There are a set of ongoing excavations, preservation and conservation projects.All but one of the 22 standing statues in Rano Raraku Quarry interior have been subjected through unscientific and undocumented digging.

The Easter Island Statue Project (EISP) has a 20 year history of an archaeological investigation, the objective of which will be the invention of a complete, complete, island-wide monolithic and portable statue inventory as well as the compilation of an historical picture record for each.

In 1982 the EISP group began a 5 year Easter Island Statue Project, mapping the inside of Rano Raraku, the volcanic quarry where 95 percent of those figurines were created. Over 1 million figurines were recorded throughout the Whole island and created the world’s largest archaeological record

Rano Raraku, a volcanic crater on the island’s eastern simple, was the origin of the sideromelane (basaltic) by which 95 percent of the statues were carved. This source is incontrovertible as there are 397 in situ figurines, of which 141 at a variety of phases of completion have been implicated by EISP in the interior quarries.