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Easter Island or Isla de Pascua

or Rapa Nui facts in brief

Easter Island, is a small group of stony islands (122 square kilometres) in the South Pacific.
All fresh water comes from wells, and crater lakes in the island's three extinct volcanoes. Easter Island about 3,700 kilometres west of Chile and has been governed by Chile since 1888.
Most of the 2,000 people living on the islands are Polynesians. Some are Chileans.
Spanish (The language of Chile), is the official language, but both Spanish and a Polynesian language, Rapanui are spoken.
Easter Island's Spanish name is Isla de Pascua and Rapanui is in Polynesian and is famous as the site of large statues (Locally called Moais) of people that were carved hundreds of years ago.
Tourism and the production of wool for export are the main industries on the island.
Some believe that the island was settled about A.D. 400, by American Indians, and others believe they were Polynesians.
The early islanders created the famous statues, and were possibly intended to honour ancestors.
Today, more than 600 statues are scattered on the island.
Most are from 3.5 to 6 metres tall.
Some rise as high as 12 metres and weigh as much as 82 metric tons.
The statues were hewn by stone hand picks from the rock of an extinct volcano.
They were set up on raised temple platforms called ahu.
Large red stone cylinders were balanced on the heads of some of the statues, like hats.
Even today, erecting such large statues on the platforms and balancing the cylinders on top of them would be a difficult feat to accomplish.
War between groups of Easter Islanders broke out about 1680.
During the following 150 years, the victors and their descendants toppled the moai from their platforms, Breaking the necks of many statues.
About 15 moai have been restored to their original positions.
The Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to see Easter Island, on Easter Sunday, 1722, and gave the island its name.
In the 19th Century about 1500 of the islanders were kidnapped and taken to Peru to work on plantations as slaves.
In 1863 only 100 of islanders surviving and were taken back to the island.
During the voyage, 85 islanders died.
The 15 survivors carried home the germs of smallpox and other diseases, which spread among the islanders killing many of them.
During the early 1870's, many Easter Islanders left their homeland.
In 1877, only 110 people remained there.
Since then, the native population has grown and some Chileans have moved to the island.

The Capital and the main settlement is Hangaroa on the eastern side of the island.

Hui Chin and I wasn't very happy when we found out, that due to the twice only a week scheduled flights to and from the islands we were forced to spend three days, where we hoped to spend one full day only.
(Due to other commitments and financial reasons (Like the cost of accommodation), we only had 60 days to see all the attractions that North, Central and South America got to offer.
The Airport is walking distance to Hangaroa and so are many of he island's Hotels or private B&B's or Residenciales as they are known.
We also found many interesting things to do to occupy the three days and making it the most memorable part of our trip.
The island is relatively small and we could have seen it if we really wanted to.
Restaurants, and generally everything is very expensive, because most things have to be flown in from Chile.
The locals are friendly and we enjoyed are stay.
Accommodation is in general rather expensive too.
We were lucky and through the internet we found a Hosteling International affiliate, the Kona Tau Residencial (Hostelling International Isla de Pascua Konatau, email: konatau@entelchile.net, their email to us with prices is here).
We spent the first day exploring Hangaroa from head to toe.
Looking in every shop and little nooks.
We found, that buying and eating fresh bread, salami and cheese with gerkins etc., made a good picnic lunch and dinner and was relatively inexpensive.
Early next day we hired a Quad (four wheeled or farm) bike and explored the island and all the Moais, that was there we could find.
The third day we hired a couple of horses to explore some parts of the island, that we couldn't reach the previous two days.
At nights we had a wide variety of fellow tourist to talk to and swap experiences with.
A very fascinating place and we made many good friends.

Before we departed we bought a lot of souvenirs from the market that's run by the craftsmen or woman.
From the Mercado Artesanal, mainly because we found a lady,
Janet Pastene Rapu very friendly, reasonably priced and very negotiable.
Janet Pastene Rapu,
Mercado Artesanal, Puerto 8, 9, 10 and 11, Modulo 3, Courero,
Isla de Pascua.
Email: vahirujanet@hotmail.com

Before our departure to the Ester Islands I did some research and I was amazed at the wide variety of theories and ideas behind the Easter Islands and their famous statues.

Elephant Beam-down Blow-out Laser Rock Carving

Links to some other Easter Island pages

Easter Island Visitor's Guide

Easter Island Foundation, Index page

NOVA Online, Secrets of Easter Island, Explore the Island

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