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history. Learn about Rapa Nui Easter Island facts.
Easter Island has been synonymous with the huge, spectacular stone mololiths, known as Moais, which once dotted its landscape. Located over 2,000 miles from the nearest population center, (Tahiti and Chile), it is one of the most isolated places on Earth. In the 1860s, Tahitian sailors gave the island the name Rapa Nui, meaning 'Great Rapa' due to its resemblance to another island in Polynesia. Only 64 square miles in size, this tiny island can be described an open air museum for the huge stone Moais scattered everywhere. These mysterious carved figures, massive in size, some weighing 50 tons, stand more than ten meters high, gazing out across rolling hills, mountains and extinct volcanoes towards crystal clear waters.
Dutch sea captain Jacob Roggeveen, who came upon the island on Easter Day in 1722, named it Easter Island. Today, the land, people and language are all referred to locally as Rapa Nui. Hanga Roa is the tiny capital where most of the 2,000 inhabitants live. About 69% of the islanders are descendants of the original Polynesian ancestors. The Easter Island was annexed by Chile in 1888. For quite sometime mystery theories were abound regarding the early ancestors of the Easter Island and the gigantic stone sculptures. Some called it the remnants of a lost civilization while others ascribed the Moai statues to extra terrestrial influence. But subsequent scientific investigation has proved that the original inhabitants of Easter Island were of Polynesian descent.
Interesting Facts About Easter Island
- The people on Easter Island converse in Austroniesian languages.
- Easter Island is known for its colossal stone statues worldwide.
- A world heritage site, much of island is protected within the premises of Rapa Nui National Park.
- As per history, the oldest known names of Easter Island are Te Pito o Te Henua, meaning ‘The Center of the World’ and Mata-Ki-Te-Rani, meaning ‘Eyes Looking at Heaven’.
- Jacob Roggeveen, who gave the island its present name, was the first ever European to set foot on the island. Since he reached on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722, he named the island Easter Island.
- In the bygone era, about 288 enormous stone statues called moai stood upon the stone platforms called ahu. There were about 250 such ahu platforms in the island, thereby forming an unbroken line.
- The average height and weight of stone statue on the ahu is about 14 feet, 6 inches tall and 14 tons.
- Some of the statues as large as 33 feet and weighed more than 80 tons.
- Almost all the moai statues found in the island are made from the hard stone of the Rano Raraku volcano.
- Though mostly famous for the statues, Easter Island also possesses a script, the Rongor script, the only written language in Oceania.
- Easter Island boasts of art and culture, including petroglyphs (rock carvings), traditional wood carvings, tapa (barkcloth) crafts, tattooing, string figures, dance and music.
- An Outrigger Club was founded in the Easter Island on 1989, by Rodriego Paoa Atamu.
- Easter Island is home to two types of small lizards and only a few species of insects. There are no mammals and no fishes on the island.
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