( ); ( ) is a Polynesian
island in the southeastern Pacific
Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian triangle
. A special territory of
Chile annexed in 1888, Easter Island is widely famous for
its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai ( ), created by the early Rapanui people.
It is a World Heritage Site
with much of the
island protected within the Rapa
Nui National Park
. Historically the island has experienced a
collapse of its ecosystem
, with extinction
of many of its prehistoric species
these events were associated with over-exploitation of the island's
resources. The underlying island geology
one of extinct volcanoes
The name "Easter Island" was given by the island's first recorded
European visitor, the Dutch
, who encountered it
on Easter Sunday
1722, while searching
for Davis or David's island
it Paasch-Eyland (18th century Dutch
for "Easter Island"). The island's official Spanish name, Isla
also means "Easter Island".
current Polynesian name of the island, "Rapa Nui" or "Big
Rapa", was coined by labor immigrants from
Rapa in the
Bass Islands, who
likened it to their home island in the aftermath of the Peruvian
slave deportations in the 1870s.
However, Thor Heyerdahl
has claimed that the naming
would have been the opposite, Rapa
being the original name
of Easter Island, and Rapa Iti
was named by its
There are several hypotheses about the "original" Polynesian name
for Easter Island, including Te pito o
, or "The Navel of the
" due to its isolation. Legends claim that the island was
first named as Te pito o te kainga a Hau Maka
, or the
"Little piece of land of Hau Maka". Another name,
means "Eyes that talk to the sky."
Location and physical geography
Easter Island is one of the world's most isolated inhabited
islands. It has a latitude close to that of Caldera, Chile; lies west of continental Chile at its nearest
point (between Lota and Lebu) and east of Pitcairn.
(Isla Salas y Gómez, 415 kilometres to the east, is closer but
The island is approx long by at its widest point — its overall
shape has been described as a perfect triangle. It has an area of
163.6 km² (63 sq mi), and a maximum altitude of 507
metres. There are three Rano (freshwater
crater lakes), at Rano Kau, Rano Raraku and Rano Aroi, near the summit of Terevaka, but no
permanent streams or rivers.
Climate and weather
The island's climate is subtropical marine. The lowest temperatures
are registered in July and August (18°C - 64°F) and the highest in
February (maximum temperature 28°C - 82°F) ), the summer season in
the southern hemisphere. The rainiest month is April, though the
island experiences year-round rainfall.
Island is a volcanic high island,
consisting mainly of three extinct coalesced volcanoes: Terevaka (altitude 507 metres) forms the bulk of the
Two other volcanoes, Poike
, form the eastern and southern
headlands and give the island its roughly triangular shape.
numerous lesser cones and other volcanic features, including the
Raraku, the cinder cone
Puna Pau and many volcanic caves including
Poike used to be an
island until volcanic material from Terevaka united it to Easter
Island. The island is dominated by hawaiite and basalt flows
which are rich in iron and show affinity with igneous rocks found in Galapagos
Island and surrounding islets such as Motu Nui, Motu Iti are the summit of a large volcanic mountain rising
over two thousand metres from the sea bed.
It is part of the
Sala y Gómez Ridge, a (mostly submarine) mountain range with dozens
starting with Pukao
and then Moai
, two seamounts to the west of Easter
Island, and extending east to the Nazca
Pukao, Moai and Easter Island were formed in the last 750,000
years, with the most recent eruption a little over a hundred
thousand years ago. They are the youngest mountains of the Sala y
Gómez Ridge, which has been formed by the Nazca Plate
floating over the Easter hotspot
. Alternative explanation is
the activity of the Easter Fracture
. Only at Easter Island, its surrounding
islets and Sala y
Gómez does the Sala y Gómez Ridge form dry
In the first half of the 20th century, steam came out of the Rano
Kau crater wall. This was photographed by the island's manager, Mr
The history of Easter Island is rich and controversial. Its
inhabitants have endured famines
, civil war
raids and colonialism
, and the crash of their ecosystem;
their population has declined precipitously more than once. They
have left a cultural legacy that has brought them fame
disproportionate to their population.
Contemporary to the arrival of the first settlers of Hawaii,
was published as a date for
initial settlement of Easter Island. Although some
scholars argue for initial settlement of 700–800 CE, there is an
ongoing study by archaeologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo that
states: “Radiocarbon dates for the earliest stratigraphic layers at
Anakena, Easter Island, and analysis of previous
radiocarbon dates imply that the island was colonized late, about
Significant ecological impacts and major cultural
investments in monumental architecture and statuary thus began soon
after initial settlement.”
The island was populated by Polynesians who navigated in canoes or
catamarans from the Marquises islands (3200 km away) or
Tuamotou islands (Mangareva, 2600 km away) or Pitcairn
(2000 km away). When Captain
Cook visited the island, one of his crew members, who was a
Polynesian from Bora
Bora, was able to communicate with the Rapa Nui.
In 1999, a voyage with reconstructed Polynesian boats was carried
out, reaching Easter Island from Mangareva in 19 days.
According to legends recorded by the missionaries in the 1860s, the
island originally had a very clear class system, with an
, king, wielding absolute god-like power ever since
had arrived on the island.
The most visible element in the culture was production of massive
that were part of the ancestral worship.
With a strictly unified appearance, moai were erected along most of
the coastline, indicating a homogeneous culture and centralized
For unknown reasons, a coup by military leaders called
had brought a new cult based around a previously
unexceptional god Makemake
cult of the birdman (Rapanui: tangata
) seemed largely to blame for the island's misery of
the late 18th and 19th centuries. Contradicting these "legends",
however, Katherine Routhledge (who systematically collected the
island's traditions in her expedition in 1919) showed that
according to the natives, all these conflicts and misery are
precisely dated to the period after the arrival of the Europeans.
Regardless, with the island's ecosystem fading, destruction of
crops quickly resulted in famine, sickness and death.
European accounts from 1722 and 1770 still saw only standing
statues, but by Cook's visit in 1774 many were reported
According to Diamond and Heyerdahl's version of history, the
- the "statue-toppling" - continued into the
1830s as a part of fierce internecine wars. By 1838 the only
standing moai were on the slopes of Rano Raraku and Hoa Hakananai'a
However, there is little archaeological evidence for "internecine
wars" in pre-European periods, and much less of pre-European
societal collapse. In fact, bone pathology and osteometric data
from islanders of that period clearly suggest few fatalities can be
attributed directly to violence (Owsley et al., 1994).
recorded European contact with the island was on April 5 (Easter Sunday), 1722 when Dutch navigator
Jacob Roggeveen visited the island
for a week and estimated there were 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants on
The next foreign visitors (on November 15, 1770)
were two Spanish ships, San Lorenzo
. They reported the island as largely uncultivated,
with a seashore lined with stone statues. Four years later, in
1774, British explorer James Cook
Easter Island, he reported the statues as being neglected with some
having fallen down. In 1825, the British ship HMS Blossom
visited and reported
no standing statues. Easter Island was approached many times during
the 19th century, but by then the islanders had become openly
hostile towards any attempt to land, and very little new
information was reported before the 1860s.
A series of devastating events killed or removed almost the entire
population of Easter Island in the 1860s. In December 1862,
Peruvian slave raiders struck Easter Island.
abductions continued for several months, eventually capturing or
killing around 1500 men and women, about half of the island's
population. A dozen islanders managed to return from their slavery,
but brought with them smallpox and started an epidemic, which
reduced the island's population to the point where some of the dead
were not even buried. Contributing to the chaos were violent clan
wars with the remaining people fighting over the newly available
lands of the deceased, bringing further famine and death among the
dwindling population. The first Christian missionary, Eugène Eyraud
, brought tuberculosis to
the island in 1867 which took a quarter of the island's remaining
population of 1,200.
bought up all of the island apart from the missionaries' area
Roa and moved a couple of hundred Rapanui to Tahiti to work for
his backers. In 1871 the missionaries, having fallen out
with Dutrou-Bornier, evacuated all but 171 Rapanui to the Gambier
"Queen Mother" Koreto with her
daughters "Queen" Caroline and Harriette in 1877
Those who remained were mostly older men.
Six years later, there were just 111 people living on Easter
Island, and only 36 of them had any offspring. From that point on
and into the present day, the island's population slowly recovered.
But with over 97% of the population dead or having left in less
than a decade, much of the island's cultural knowledge had been
Easter Island was annexed by Chile on September 9, 1888, by
, by means of the
"Treaty of Annexation
of the Island
" (Tratado de Anexión de la isla), that the
government of Chile signed with the Rapanui
1960s, the surviving Rapanui were confined to the settlement of
Roa while the rest of the island was rented to the
Company as a sheep farm until 1953.
The island was then
managed by the Chilean Navy
at which point the island was reopened in its entirety. In 1966,
the Rapanui were given Chilean citizenship.
30, 2007, a constitutional reform gave Easter Island and Juan
Fernández Islands the status of special territories of
Chile. Pending the enactment of a special charter,
the island will continue to be governed as a province of the
Island, together with its closest neighbour, the tiny island of
Isla Sala y
Gómez further east, is recognized by ecologists as a
distinct ecoregion, the Rapa Nui
subtropical broadleaf forests.
Having relatively little
rainfall contributed to eventual deforestation. The original
moist broadleaf forests
are now gone, but paleobotanical
studies of fossil pollen
and tree moulds
left by lava flows indicate that the island was formerly forested,
with a range of trees
, ferns, and grasses
large now extinct palm
related to the Chilean wine palm (Jubaea chilensis)
, was one of the dominant trees
as attested by fossil evidence; human overpopulation in the period
1200 to 350 years before present led to deforestation
of this palm and its resultant
extinction. The toromiro
tree (Sophora toromiro)
was prehistorically present
on Easter Island, and is now extinct in the wild. However, the Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Göteborg Botanical Garden are jointly leading a scientific program to
reintroduce the toromiro to Easter Island. The island is, and
has been for at least the last three centuries, mainly covered in
grassland with nga'atu or bulrush
(Schoenoplectus californicus tatora) in the crater lakes
Raraku and Rano Kau.
presence of these reeds, which are called totora
, was used to support the argument of a
South American origin of the statue builders, but pollen analysis
of lake sediments shows these reeds have grown on the island for
over 30,000 years . Before the arrival of humans, Easter Island had
colonies, no longer found on
the main island, and there is fossil evidence for five species of
landbirds, which have become extinct.
The immunosuppressant drug sirolimus
first discovered in the bacterium Streptomyces
in a soil sample from Easter Island. The drug is
also known as rapamycin, after Rapa Nui.
Collapse of the ecosystem
Trees are sparse on modern Easter Island, rarely forming small
. The island once had a forest
, and it has been argued whether
or not the native Easter Islanders deforested the island in the
process of erecting their statues, and in providing sustenance for
archaeology has demonstrated that some statues certainly could have
been placed on "Y" shaped wooden frames called miro manga
and then pulled to their final destinations on ceremonial
sites. Other theories involve the use of "ladders" (parallel wooden
rails) over which the statues could have been dragged. Rapanui
traditions metaphorically refer to spiritual power (mana)
as the means by which the moai were "walked" from the quarry. But,
given the island's southern latitude, the climatic effects of the
Little Ice Age
(about 1650 to 1850)
may have exacerbated deforestation, though this remains
However, many researchers (Finney (1994), Hunter Anderson (1998);
P.D. Nunn (1999, 2003); Orliac and Orliac(1998)) point to the
climatic downtrend caused by the Little Ice Age as one of the
contributing factors to the problem of resource stress and to the
disappearance of the palm tree from the Island. Experts, however,
do not agree on when exactly the Island’s palms became
dismisses past climate
change as a dominant factor on the island's deforestation in his
his perspective into the collapse of the ancient Easter Islanders.
Influenced by the romantic interpretation of Easter's history by
Thor Heyerdahl's (as he acknowledges in chapter 2 of Collapse),
Diamond insists that the disappearance of the island's trees seems
to coincide with a decline of its civilization around the 17th and
18th century. Midden
contents show a sudden
drop in quantities of fish
and bird bones
as the islanders lost
the means to construct fishing vessels and the birds lost their
nesting sites. Soil erosion
due to lack
of trees is apparent in some places. Sediment samples document that
up to half of the native plants had become extinct and that the
vegetation of the island was drastically altered. Chickens and
became leading items of diet and there are
contested hints that cannibalism
occurred, based on human remains associated with cooking sites,
especially in caves.
View toward the interior of the
In his article "From Genocide to Ecocide: The Rape of Rapa Nui",
notes evidence of
self-sufficiency on Easter Island when Europeans first arrived. The
island still had smaller trees, mainly toromiro
, which became extinct in the 20th century.
Cornelis Bouman, Jakob Roggeveen
captain, stated in his log book
, "... of
and small coconut palms
we saw little
and no other trees or crops." According to Carl Friedrich Behrens
officer, "The natives presented palm branches as peace offerings.
Their houses were set up on wooden stakes, daubed over with luting
and covered with palm leaves," (presumably from banana
plants as the island was by then deforested).
The stakes indicate that either driftwood
or living trees were still available. There were reports by
European visitors claiming to have seen "boles of large palm
trees". Peiser considers these reports to indicate that
considerable numbers of large trees still existed at that time,
which is perhaps contradicted by the Bouman quote above.
In his book A Short
History of Progress
speculates that for a generation or so, "there was
enough old lumber to haul the great stones and still keep a few
seaworthy for deep water". When the day
came that the last boat was gone, wars broke out over "ancient
planks and wormeaten bits of jetsam". But this statement is flawed
since the sea going craft the islanders used were not made of wood,
but of bundles of freshwater reeds planted in the Rano Kao
crater which, according to Wright, were
planted by one of the first "long-ear" settlers. A one-man craft of
was called a
. There were larger reed ships, some containing three
masts with reed sails and capable of holding over 400 individuals,
and are depicted in petroglyphs
paintings and sculptures.
By the end of the third epoch in the island's history, with only
one "long-ear" surviving, there were more than a thousand moai
(stone statues), which was one for every ten islanders (Wright,
2004). When the first missionaries arrived in the 18th century, the
worst was over and they only found one or two living souls per
statue. According to Peiser, little more than a hundred natives
hadsurvived waves of attacks, slave-raids, widespread diseases and
destruction that happened throughout most of the 19th
Easter Island has suffered from heavy soil erosion in recent
centuries, perhaps aggravated by agriculture and massive deforestation
. This process seems to have been
gradual and may have been aggravated by extensive sheep farming
of the Williamson-Balfour Company
throughout most of the 20th century. Jakob Roggeveen
reported that Easter Island
was exceptionally fertile. "Fowls are the only animals they keep.
They cultivate bananas, sugar cane, and above all sweet potatoes."
In 1786 Jean-François
de La Pérouse
visited Easter Island and his gardener declared
that "three days' work a year" would be enough to support the
Rollin, a major in the Perouse expedition of 1786, wrote, "Instead
of meeting with men exhausted by famine... I found, on the
contrary, a considerable population, with more beauty and grace
than I afterwards met in any other island; and a soil, which, with
very little labour, furnished excellent provisions, and in an
abundance more than sufficient for the consumption of the
According to Diamond, oral traditions (the veracity of which has
been questioned by Routhledge, Lavachery, Metraux, Peiser and
others) of the current islanders seem obsessed with cannibalism,
which he readily suggests as evidence supporting a rapid collapse.
For example, he states (Diamond, 1995), to severely insult an enemy
one would say, "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth."
This, Diamond asserts, means the food supply of the people
ultimately ran out; however, cannibalism was perhaps widespread
across Polynesian cultures, rendering his conclusion rather
In fact, contemporary ethnographic research has proven there is
scarcely any significant or tangible evidence for the practice of
cannibalism (at the very least, as a widespread phenomenon)
anywhere and at any point in time in the Island (Flenley and Bahn,
Furthermore, the first scientific exploration of the Easter Island
(1914) established, through Routledge's work, that theindigenous
population strongly reject the allegations that they or their
ancestors had ever been cannibals (Routledge, 1919).
The most important myth
- Tangata manu, the Birdman cult
which was practiced until the 1860s.
- Makemake, an important
- Aku-aku, the guardians of the sacred family caves.
- Moai-kava-kava a ghost man of the Hanau
- Hekai ite umu pare haonga takapu Hanau epe kai noruego, the
sacred chant to appease the aku-aku before entering a family
The Rapa Nui people had a Stone Age civilization and made extensive
use of several different types of local stone:
- Basalt, a hard, dense stone used for
toki and at least one of the moai.
- Obsidian, a volcanic glass with sharp
edges used for sharp-edged implements such as Mataa and also for the black pupils of the eyes of the
- Red scoria from Puna
Pau, a very light red stone used for the pukao and a few moai.
- Tuff from Rano Raraku, a much more easily worked rock than basalt, and
was used for most of the moai.
The large stone statues, or moai
which Easter Island is world-famous, were carved during a
relatively short and intense burst of creative and productive
megalithic activity. A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have
been inventoried on the island and in museum collections. Although
often identified as "Easter Island heads", the statues are actually
complete torsos, the figures kneeling on bent knees with their
hands over their stomachs. Some upright moai have become buried up
to their necks by shifting soils.
The period when the statues were produced remains disputed, with
estimates ranging from 400 CE to 1500–1700 CE. Almost all (95%) moai
were carved out of distinctive, compressed, easily worked volcanic
ash or tuff found at a single site inside the
extinct volcano Rano
The native islanders who carved them used
only stone hand chisels, mainly basalt
, which still lie in place all over the quarry. The stone
chisels were re-sharpened by chipping off a new edge when dulled.
The volcanic stone the moai were carved from was first wetted to
soften it before sculpting began, then again periodically during
the process. While many teams worked on different statues at the
same time, a single moai would take a team of five or six men
approximately one year to complete. Each statue represents a
deceased long-ear chief or important person.
Only a quarter of the statues were installed, while nearly half
still remain in the quarry at Rano Raraku and the rest elsewhere on
the island, probably on their way to final locations. The largest
moai is known as "Paro" weighing 82 tons. There are several others
close to this size. Moving the huge statues required a miro manga erua
, a Y-shaped sledge with
cross pieces, pulled with ropes made from the tough bark of the
tree, and tied fast
around the statue's neck. Anywhere from 180 to 250 men were
required for pulling, depending on the size of the moai. Some 50 of
the now standing statues have been re-erected in modern times.
moai was re-erected on the beach of Anakena in 1958 using traditional methods during an
expedition to the island by Thor Heyerdahl.
are stone platforms which vary greatly in layout.
been significantly reworked during or after the huri
mo'ai or statue-toppling era; many became
ossuaries; one was dynamited open; and
Tongariki was swept
inland by a tsunami.
Of the 313 known
ahu, 125 carried stone moai—usually just one, probably due to the
shortness of the moai period and difficulties in transporting them.
Ahu Tongariki, one kilometer from Rano Raraku, had the most and
tallest moai, 15 in total. Other notable ahu with moai are Ahu Akivi, restored in 1960 by William Mulloy, Nau Nau at Anakena and Tahai.
Ahu without stone moai may have
had statues made of wood, now lost.
The classic elements of ahu design are:
- A retaining rear wall several feet high, usually facing the
- A platform behind the wall.
- Pads or cushions on the platform.
- A sloping ramp covered with evenly sized, wave-rounded boulders
on the inland side of the platform rising most of, but not all, the
way up the side of the platform.
- A pavement in front of the ramp.
- Inside the ahu was a fill of rubble.
On top of many ahu would have been:
- Moai on the pads looking out over the pavement with their backs
to the rear wall.
- Pukao on the moai heads.
- And in their eye sockets, white coral eyes with black obsidian
Ahu evolved from the traditional Polynesian marae
in which the word ahu was only used for the
central stone platform, though on Easter Island ahu and moai
evolved to a much greater size. The biggest ahu contained twenty
times as much stone as a moai; however, most of this stone was
sourced very locally (apart from broken, old moai, fragments of
which have also been used in the fill). Also individual stones are
mostly far smaller than the moai, so less work was needed to
transport the raw material.
found mostly on the coast, where they are distributed fairly evenly
except on the western slopes of Mount Terevaka and the Rano Kau and
Poike headlands. These are the three
areas with the least low-lying coastal land, and apart from Poike
the furthest areas from Rano Raraku.
One ahu with several moai was recorded on
the cliffs at Rano Kau in the 1880s, but had fallen to the beach by
the time of the Routledge
One of the highest-quality examples of Easter Island stone masonry
is the rear wall of the ahu at Vinapu
Made without mortar by shaping hard basalt
rocks of up to seven tons
to match each other
exactly, it has a superficial similarity to some Inca
stone walls in South America.
1,233 prehistoric stone "houses", called tupa in earlier
times and hare moa ("chicken
house") later, are more conspicuous than the remains of the
prehistoric human houses which only had stone foundations (except
for those at Orongo).
Stone houses were up to 6 metres long, with a distinctive
boat-shaped structure combined with a stick and palm
leaf or thatch superstructure. The entrances
were very low, and getting in required crawling.
Germans excavated some of the Hare Moa
in 1882 and found
human remains inside. Locals told them that they were resting
places for the ariki
, Easter Island kings and chiefs. Each
house had two small holes—if a hostile spirit entered through one,
the spirit of the deceased could escape through the other.
and also by their old name, the stone houses are seen similar to
Indian chullpas in Peru and Bolivia.
Noteworthy is that the remaining numbers of
the stone houses and moai are quite close to each other, possibly
meaning that for each person buried in a stone house, a moai was
immediately constructed. Usage of stone houses as graves seems to
have ceased around the same time when production of moai ended and
ancestral worship declined. During the turmoils of the late 18th
century, the islanders seem to have started to bury their dead
among the ruined ahu—the moai platforms—and use the stone houses as
chicken shelters. There are no human remains in them any
are pictures carved
into rock, and Easter Island has one of the richest collections in
. Around 1,000 sites with
more than 4,000 petroglyphs are catalogued. Designs and images were
carved out of rock for a variety of reasons: to create totems, to
mark territory or to memorialize a person or event. There are distinct
variations around the island in terms of the frequency of
particular themes among petroglyphs, with a concentration of
Birdmen at Orongo.
Other subjects include sea turtles, Komari (vulvas) and Makemake,
the chief god of the Tangata
or Birdman cult. (Lee 1992)
Petroglyphs are also common in the Marquesas islands.
Image:Makemake.jpeg|Makemake with two birdmen, carved from red scoriaImage:Ahu-Tongariki-4-Petroglyph.JPG|Fish
petroglyph found near Ahu TongarikiImage:Motu Nui.jpg|Petroglyphs on Basalt
rocks at Orongo. A
Makemake at the base and two
birdmen higher up
island and neighbouring Motu
Nui are riddled with caves, many of which show signs of
past human use and fortification, including narrowed entrances and
crawl spaces with ambush points.
Many caves feature in the
myths and legends of the Rapa Nui.
The undeciphered Easter island script rongorongo
may be one of the very few writing
systems created ex nihilo
without outside influence. Alternatively, the islanders' brief
exposure to Western writing during the Spanish visit in 1770 may
have inspired the ruling class to establish rongorongo as a
religious tool. Rongorongo has few similarities to the petroglyph
corpus; and there is
not a single line of rongorongo carved in stone despite thousands
of petroglyphs and other stonework.
Rongorongo was first reported by a French missionary, Eugène Eyraud
, in 1864. At that time,
several islanders claimed to be able to understand the writing, but
all attempts to read them were unsuccessful. According to
tradition, only a small part of the population was ever literate,
rongorongo being a privilege of the ruling families and priests.
This contributed to the total loss of knowledge of how to read
rongorongo in the 1860s, when the island's elite was annihilated by
slave raids and disease.
Of the hundreds of wooden tablets and staffs reportedly having
rongorongo writing carved on them, only two dozen survive,
scattered in museums around the world with none remaining on Easter
Island. Numerous attempts to decipher them have proved fruitless,
and the academic community does not agree on whether rongorongo was
truly a form of writing.
Wood was scarce on Easter Island during the 18th and 19th
centuries, but a number of highly detailed and distinctive carvings
have found their way to the world's museums. Particular forms
- Reimiro, a gorget
or breast ornament of crescent shape with a head at one or both
tips. The same design appears on the flag of Rapa Nui. Two Rei Miru at the
British Museum are inscribed with Rongorongo.
- Moko Miro, a man with a lizard
- Moai kavakava, grotesque and
highly detailed human figures carved from Toromiro pine and
represent deceased ancestors. The earlier figures are rare and
generally depict a male figure with an emaciated body and a goatee.
The figures' ribs and vertebrae are exposed and many examples show
carved glyphs on various parts of the body but more generally, on
the top of the head. The female figures, which are far rarer then
the males are, depict the body as flat and often the female's hand
lying across the body. The figures, although some quite large, were
worn as ornamental pieces around a tribesman's neck, the more
figures worn, the more important the man. The figures have a shiny
surface, this patina developed from constant handling and contact
with human skin.
- Ao, a large dancing paddle.
- An annual cultural festival, the Tapati, held since
1975 around the beginning of February to celebrate Rapanui
- A national football team.
discos in the town of Hanga Roa.
- A musical tradition that combines South American and Polynesian
influences (see music of
- A vibrant carving tradition.
Population at the 2002 census was 3,791
(3,304 in Hanga
60% were Rapanui, Chileans
of European or castizo
descent were 39% of the population, and the
remaining 1% were Native Americans
mainland Chile. Castizos may include people of European and Rapanui
or European, Native American, and Rapanui descent. Rapanui have
also migrated out of the island. At the 2002 census, 2,269 Rapanui lived
on Easter Island, while 2,378 lived in the mainland of Chile (half
of them in the metropolitan area of Santiago).
Population density on Easter Island is
only 23 inhabitants per km² (60 per sq mi), much lower than in
the 17th century heyday of the moai building when there were
possibly as many as 15,000 inhabitants, or roughly 92 inhabitants
per km² (214 per sq mi).
Fishing boats on Easter Island
The population was 1,936 inhabitants in 1982. This increase in
population is partly due to the arrival of people of European
descent from the mainland of Chile.
Consequently, the island is losing its native Polynesian
identity. In 1982 around 70%
of the population were Rapanui
Polynesian inhabitants). Population had already declined to only
2,000–3,000 inhabitants before the slave
of 1862. In the 19th century, disease
due to contacts with Europeans,
as well as deportation of 2,000 Rapanui to work as slaves in Peru,
and the forced departure of the remaining Rapanui to Chile, carried
the population of Easter Island to the all-time low of 111
inhabitants in 1877. Out of these 111 Rapanui, only 36 had
descendants, but all of today's Rapanui claim descent from those
Administration and legal status
Island shares with Juan Fernández Islands the sui generis
constitutional status of special territory of Chile,
granted in 2007. A special charter for the island is
currently being discussed, therefore it continues to be considered
a province of the Valparaíso Region, containing a single commune. Both the province and
the commune are called Isla de Pascua and encompass the
whole island and its surrounding islets and rocks, plus Isla Salas y
Gómez, some 380 km to the east.
- Provincial governor: Melania Carolina Hotu Hey.
Appointed by the President of the Republic.
- Mayor: Luz Zasso Paoa (PDC), directly-elected for
four years (2008-2012). Municipality located in Hanga Roa.
- Municipal council,
directly-elected for four years (2008-2012):
- Marta Raquel Hotus Tuki (PDC)
- Ximena Trengove Vallejos (PDC)
- Julio Araki Tepano (UDI)
- Eliana Amelia Olivares San Juan (UDI)
- Alberto Hotus Chávez (PPD)
- Marcelo Pont Hill (PPD)
- An English translation of the originally Dutch journal by Jacob
Roggeveen, with additional significant information from the log by
Cornelis Bouwman, was published in: Andrew Sharp (ed.), The Journal
of Jacob Roggeveen (Oxford 1970).
- Invention of the name "Rapa Nui"
- Heyerdahl claimed that the two islands would be about the same
size, meaning that "big" and "small" would not be physical, but
historical attributes, "big" indicating the original. In reality,
however, Easter Island is more than four times bigger than Rapa
Iti. Heyerdahl also claimed that there is an island called "Rapa"
Titicaca in South America, but so far there is no map available
showing an island of that name in the lake.
- Thomas S. Barthel: The Eighth Land: The Polynesian Settlement
of Easter Island (Honolulu: University of Hawaii 1978; originally
published in German in 1974)
- Compendio Estadístico 2005, INE.
- Enjoy Chile - climate
- Easter Island Articlein Letsgochile.com
- Inst of Petrology Vol 38 Haase, Stoffers &
- Inst of Petrology Vol 38 The Petrogenetic Evolution
of Lavas from Easter Island and Neighbouring Seamounts, Near-ridge
Hotspot Volcanoes in the SE Pacific - Haase, Stoffers &
- Hunt, T. L., Lipo, C. P., 2006. Science, 1121879. URL “Late
Colonization of Easter Island”
- Katherine Routledge The mystery of
Easter island page 208
- Collapse of island's demographics in the 1860s and
- Diamond, Jared (2005), Collapse: How societies choose to
fail or survive, page 112.
- Chilean Law 20,193, National Congress of Chile
- C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Chilean Wine Palm: Jubaea chilensis,
GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg
- Steadman (2006) 248-250
- (Heyerdahl & Ferdon, 1961:57).
- Diamond 2005:109
- Pacific islands archaeology
- Flenley JR. & King SM 1984. Late Quaternary pollen records
from Easter Island. Nature 307: 47-50
- See Heyerdahl, with pictures.
- Heavy erosion and landslides may have buried them in soil.
- See Heyerdahl, with pictures.(however Alfred Metraux pointed
out that the rubble filled Rapanui walls were a fundamentally
different design to those of the Inca, see also
- See tupa in Englert's dictionary.
- Heyerdahl, Thor. Easter Island — A Mystery
Solved. 1988. ISBN 951-30-8952-5.
- See Fischer, page 63.
- See Fischer, pages 31 and 63.
- The mystery of Easter island, routledge page 268
- Wooden gorget (rei miro). British Museum.
- ALTMAN, Ann M. 2004. Early Visitors to Easter Island 1864-1877
(translations of the accounts of Eugène Eyraud, Hippolyte Roussel,
Pierre Loti and Alphonse Pinart; with an Introduction by Georgia
Lee). Los Osos, CA: Easter Island Foundation.
- BARTHEL, Thomas. 1958. Grundlagen zur Entzifferung der
Osterinselschrift. Hamburg: Cram, de Gruyter.
- BUTINOV, Nikolai A., & Yuri V. KNOROZOV. 1957. Preliminary
Report on the Study of the Written Language of Easter Island.
Journal of the Polynesian Society 66. 1.
- Diamond, Jared. 2005. Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or
Succeed. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-14-303655-6.
- ENGLERT, Sebastian F. 1970. Island at the Center of the World.
Translated and Edited by William Mulloy. New York: Charles
- FEDOROVA, Irina K. 1965. Versions of Myths and Legends in
Manuscripts from Easter Island. In: Heyerdahl et al. (eds.),
Miscellaneous Papers: Reports of the Norwegian Archaeological
Expedition to Easter Island and East Pacific 2. 395-401. Stockholm:
- FISCHER, Steven Roger. 1995. Preliminary Evidence for
Cosmogonic Texts in Rapanui’s Rongorongo Inscriptions. Journal of
the Polynesian Society 104. 303-21.
- FISCHER, Steven Roger. 1997. Glyph-breaker: A Decipherer's
Story. N.Y.: Copernicus/Springer-Verlag.
- FISCHER, Steven Roger. 1997. RongoRongo, the Easter Island
Script: History, Traditions, Texts. Oxford and N.Y.: Oxford
- GUY, Jacques B.M. 1985. On a fragment of the “Tahua” Tablet.
Journal of the Polynesian Society 94. 367-87.
- GUY, Jacques B.M. 1988. Rjabchikov’s Decipherments Examined.
Journal of the Polynesian Society 97. 321-3.
- GUY, Jacques B.M. 1990. On the Lunar Calendar of Tablet Mamari.
Journal de la Société des Océanistes 91:2.135-49.
- HEYERDAHL, Thor. 1965. The Concept of Rongorongo Among the
Historic Population of Easter Island. In: Thor Heyerdahl &
Edwin N. Ferdon Jr. (eds. and others.), 1961-65. Stockholm:
- HEYERDAHL, THOR Aku-Aku; The 1958 Expedition to Easter
- HUNT, Terry L. 2006. Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island.
American Scientist, 94, 412 (Sept-October
- HUNTER-ANDERSON, R. 1998. Human vs climatic impacts at Rapa
Nui: did the people really cut down all those trees?
In:Stevenson, C.M.; Lee, G. & Morin, F.J. (eds):
Easter Island in Pacific Context. South Seas
Symposium: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on
Easter Island and East Polynesia: 85–99. Easter Island
- LEE, Georgia. 1992. The Rock Art of Easter Island. Symbols of
Power, Prayers to the Gods. Los Angeles: The Institute of
Archaeology Publications (UCLA).
- MELLÉN BLANCO, Francisco. 1986. Manuscritos y documentos
españoles para la historia de la isla de Pascua. Madrid:
- MÉTRAUX, Alfred. 1940. Ethnology
of Easter Island. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 160. Honolulu:
Bernice P. Bishop Museum Press.
- POZDNIAKOV, Konstantin. 1996. Les Bases du Déchiffrement de
l'Écriture de l'Ile de Pâques. Journal de la Societé des Océanistes
- ROUTLEDGE, Katherine. 1919.
The Mystery of Easter Island. The story of an expedition.
- SHEPARDSON, B. 2006. On the Shoulders of Giants. British
Archaeology January/February: 14-17.
- STEADMAN D, (2006).
Extinction and Biogeography in Tropical Pacific Birds,
University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-77142-7
- THOMSON, William J. 1891. Te Pito te Henua, or Easter Island.
Report of the United States National Museum for the Year Ending
June 30, 1889. Annual Reports of the Smithsonian Institution for
1889. 447-552. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, in
- VAN TILBURG, Jo Anne. 1994. Easter Island: Archaeology, Ecology
and Culture. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
- VARGAS, Patricia; CRISTINO, Claudio and IZAURIETA, Roberto.
2006. 1000 AÑOS EN RAPA NUI. Arqueologia del Asentamiento.
Santiago, Universidad de Chile, Editorial Universitaria. ISBN