Easter Island or Isla de Pascua in Spanish or Rapa Nui after the ancestral dwellers of the island is nestled on the most southerly point of Polynesian Triangle. In 1995, UNESCO listed the Island as a World Heritage Site. Most of the Island is part of the Rapa Nui National Park that protects its 887 monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. Below are a couple of facts about the Island.
1. Given its position on the globe, the Island is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world but also least visited. The Chilean government has attempted to reduce the legal constraints of visiting the island to no avail. For the few that make it to the island, the 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile journey will be more than worth it.
2. The Moai statues are believed to have been carved between 1250 and 1500 AD by the first inhabitants of the island. They are thought to depict the people's ancestors that are still highly regarded in these parts of the world.
3. The Moai and Ahu statues all feature an oversized head, broad nose, and a mysterious, indecipherable facial expression. Archaeologists are still struggling to learn how these ancient peoples managed to get here, leave alone carve the statues.
4. The Island is named after the Dutch explorer who first landed here. He wondered how anybody could survive in such a treeless island. Actually, there were about 2,000 Polynesians on the island when it was first discovered. However, diseases reduced this number to about 200 by late 19th century. One wonders if they really belonged to this planet...a question many folklore stories seek to answer in the countryside of Chile.
5. The festival of Tapati has been held by the few residents of the Island in remembrance of the Rapa Nui people's culture. The festival involves a lot of dancing and wood carving.
Hopefully the scientists will answer the question of the Moai statues fully in our lifetime!
For more information on tours and accommodation on Easter Island and Chile, please contact a Travel Specialist at North South Travel today