Have you heard of the Easter Islands? Easter Island (a.k.a. Rapa Nui) is located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. It is an attractive tourist destination because of its nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues (a.k.a. moai). What is more, it remains a mystery when Polynesians colonized the island and why their civilization collapsed so quickly.
In this article, we want to share with you the story of the mysterious Easter Islands. Or at least what we currently know about it.
Where Does the Name Come From?
Easter Island is one of the most enigmatic islands in the whole world. Though its territory officially belongs to Chile, Chile is actually more than 3,000 km away. Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch navigator, discovered the island on Easter 1722. Therefore, he named it Easter Island.
Who Inhabited the Easter Islands and When?
Between 800 CE and 1200 CE Polynesian inhabitants reached the island and created an amazing culture. The Rapa Nui people made extensive use of local stone. They created numerous monolithic stone statues, platforms, walls, houses and Petroglyphs (rock carvings).
It is interesting to mention that the Easter island statues are often called “Easter Island heads”. However, most of the stone figures on Easter island have at least torsos.
Also, the Rano Raraku quarry on the eastern side of the island was one of the top places for carving statues. Nevertheless, recent research shows that it was also a site of a productive agricultural area.
Why Did the Polynesian Civilization On the Easter Islands Disappear?
Scientist believes that Rapa Nui people cut down most palm trees in order to clear the land for cultivation. They also may have used wood as a way of moving the stone statues. All of this probably led to gradual forest deforestation.
Besides, there is also evidence that rats played a significant role in the story. Invasive species of rodent tend to eat the seeds of the trees. So, this may have also contributed to the devastation of the environment. Last, but not least, there were also serious epidemics that quickly spread over when the European explorer arrived.
Easter Island Tourism
As you can see, Easter Islands are one of the most mysterious places in the whole world. Therefore, it is not surprising that a lot of people go on an Easter island vacation. Here are the most remarkable things to do if you choose to visit Easter island. First, be ready to delve into the world of stone giants, representing preeminent tribal figures or ancestral spirits.
Second, visit the original platform Ahu Akahanga to see the island area as European explorers first did. Third, go to the largest ceremonial site Ahu Tongariki and inform yourself about the effects of the 1960 tsunami. Fourth, visit Rano Raraku and the beautiful volcanic stone carvings. Last, but not least, if you go to the enigmatic Easter Islands, definitely explore the seven moai of Ahu Nau Nau in Anakena.