Easter Island, or Rapanui (Spanish Isla de Pascua, Rap Rapa Nui,
Dutch Paas eiland) is an island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean,
the territory of Chile (together with the uninhabited island of Sala
y Gomez, it forms the province and commune of Isla- de Pascua in the
Valparaiso region). The local name of the island is Rapanui, or Rapa
Nui (rap. Rapa Nui). The area is 163.6 km².
Along with the archipelago, Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited island in the world. The distance to the continental coast of Chile is 3514 km, to Pitcairn Island, the nearest inhabited place, is 2075 km. The island was discovered by the Dutch traveler Jacob Roggeveen on Easter Sunday 1722.
The capital of the island and its only city is Anga Roa. In total, 7,750 people live on the island (2017).
Rapanui is largely known for its moai, or stone statues made from compressed volcanic ash, which, according to local beliefs, contain the supernatural power of the ancestors of the first king of Easter Island, Hotu-Matu'a. In 1888, annexed by Chile. In 1995 Rapanui National Park (Easter Island) became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today's Poike Peninsula in the north was created about 3 million
years ago by a volcanic eruption. After another 2 million years, Rano
Kau rose from the sea in the southwest and 250,000 years ago Maunga
Terevaka connected the two volcanoes to form an island.
It is not known exactly when Easter Island was settled, but the legend about the chief Hotu Matua, which was handed down orally among the natives, is said to have happened in the 14th century AD. The research is made more difficult by the fact that the traditional script of Easter Island, the Rongorongo script, has not been convincingly deciphered to date, so that no written evidence is available. In contrast to earlier assumptions, which assumed two settlement waves, extensive DNA analyzes now show that there was only one settlement wave from Polynesia, possibly as early as 600 AD, but possibly as late as 1200 AD . The settlement of Easter Island from the Polynesian islands more than 4000 km away must be considered a sensation of human civilization with the means available at the time and was probably a deliberate settlement and not a chance discovery.
The superhumanly large stone statues, the Moai, are the symbol of Easter Island and can be found all over the island, but the question of what purpose they once served has puzzled scientists to this day, as does the question of why the Polynesian culture perished until the arrival of the first western settlers. Today it is assumed that overpopulation of the island and the associated depletion of resources (erosion and overgrazing of the soil, almost complete deforestation of the forest needed for shipbuilding) led to the abandonment of traditional beliefs and ultimately to the decline of the culture as a whole.
On April 6, 1722, an Easter Sunday, the island was "discovered" by the Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen. During the colonial period, the island was visited several times by Europeans, but not yet taken possession.
Between 1850 and 1870 there was an invasion of illegal slave traders on the island, who kidnapped many of the inhabitants to Peru and had them work in the guano fields there. Out of 1000 slaves, 900 died in one year. The Bishop of Tahiti lobbied for the last 100 survivors to be returned to the island. However, as many were infected with smallpox, most died during the crossing and the few who survived also infected the rest of the island's population, so that in 1877 only 111 islanders remained on the island.
In 1888, the Chilean Captain Policarpo Toro annexed the island for Chile, so the island was incorporated into the country.
Until well into the 20th century, residents of the islands were second-class Chilean citizens, only gaining full citizenship in 1966. In addition, the island was isolated from the rest of Chile for a long time. Almost the entire island was leased to foreign companies for intensive livestock farming. The islanders were only allowed to stay in a very small part of the island. In 1967 the islanders obtained extensive concessions and a regular flight to Santiago. However, the relationship remained strained as the Rapanui resisted the establishment of private property in the 1970s; their laws, on the other hand, assumed collective property.
Only after Chile's transition to democracy in 1986 was the island's development seriously promoted. In 1990, a commission to develop the island was set up. However, the government continued to deny the island the autonomy it wanted, leading to the threat of a unilateral declaration of independence in 2006. In 2007, Chile gave in and gave Easter Island and the Juan Fernández Islands special status as autonomous regions.
Moai - stone statues on the coast of Easter Island in the form of a
human head with a body truncated approximately to the level of the belt.
Their height reaches 20 meters. Contrary to popular belief, they do not
look towards the ocean, but inland. Some moai have red stone caps. Moai
were made in quarries in the center of the island.
Scientists are still concerned about how the inhabitants of Easter Island made and raised their statues. Attempts to raise them in modern times have been made by many prominent researchers. Thor Heyerdahl laid the foundation, but his theory was apparently untenable, since the statue was damaged in the process of moving. Much more information came from subsequent experiments on the transportation and installation of the statues, which were carried out by William Malloy, Jo Ann Van Tilburg, Claudio Cristino and others. The islanders began by building a gently sloping mound of stones, starting at the site in front of the ahu and leading to the top of the front wall of the ahu, and dragging the statue, which lay base forward, up the mound. When the base of the statue reached the platform, they raised the head of the statue an inch or two, using the logs as a lever, and pushed stones under the head to hold the statue in its new position, an operation repeated until the angle of the statue became close to vertical. ".
The language is called Rapanui by the locals. It is of Polynesian origin, but has changed significantly over the centuries due to the isolation of Easter Island, so that today only a few words match other Polynesian languages. The locals find it easier to learn the Tahitian language than Spanish. Many learn Spanish only in school and still consider it a foreign language. Many residents active in tourism speak English more or less well. Advertising for events is often also in French, rarely in German.
Arriving by plane is only possible with the Chilean LAN. There are daily connections to IPC (Isla de Pascua) from Santiago de Chile, as well as 1 to 2 times a week from/to Papeete (Tahiti) and depending on the season to Lima (Peru).
Every now and then a cruise ship comes by, but then stays in the roadstead at a reasonable distance and takes its passengers to the small harbor basin in individual tender boats. But even in moderate sea conditions, this can be a very special experience.
On the island there are neither the micro-buses nor colectivos typical of the Chilean mainland. Instead, numerous taxi drivers vie for the attention of tourists in town. From the airport to the center of Hanga Roa, however, it is only a 20-minute walk.
In order to get to know the various sights of the island, it is advisable to rent a bicycle (13 euros per 24 hours) or a jeep (approx. 50 euros per 24 hours). There are numerous rental companies in the center of Hanga Roa. Nearby destinations (Rano Kau, Tere Vaka, Ahu Akiwi) can also be easily reached on foot. Many companies also offer guided tours around the island in minibuses.
Round trip to Anakena beach is around 15 euros by taxi which is very expensive for 2x30 min ride but the only way to get there is by motor.
Hiking, especially in the somewhat cooler (20 degrees) winter, on the
trail of the varied and interesting culture and history of the Rapanui
Diving with different companies, also to coral reefs
guided tours around the island
Horseback riding tours in different areas
Bathing and sunbathing at the only beach Anakena (bathing is only allowed there!)
Surfing in the numerous bays (beware of reefs)
In general, prices are very high compared to South America, which is due to the isolated location of the island. There are mainly fish dishes, often prepared in a Polynesian style, but the Chilean empanadas are also widespread. Sweet potatoes, avocados, guavas and bananas are among the plants that grow well on the island and are used in many dishes. Po'e - a kind of banana cake - is offered at many stalls. The island's only beer brewery sells and exports its products under the name "Mahina".
"Island typical" shows for tourists, mostly on Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays. Numerous bars and a disco in the village center.
In Hanga Roa there are numerous accommodations from 25 euros per person and night (almost open scale upwards). The island's only campsite is also located there (just south of the center on the coast). Otherwise, camping is forbidden for non-residents anywhere on the island, including Anakena. In order to camp cheaper or on private property, you should know the locals personally.
The climate is oceanic and mild and relatively dry. Temperatures range between 12 (at night in winter) and 30 degrees almost all year round. The water temperature stays consistently above 18 degrees.