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Hollie | profile | all galleries >> Around The World Trip January, 2005 >> Easter Island, AKA Rapa Nui tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Easter Island, AKA Rapa Nui

Easter Island is the world's most remote inhabited island. It is only 45 square miles, primarily Polynesian. Although it once had a population of 15,000, it is now down to 2,100.

This land once was tropical rainforest, heavily treed. The first Polynesians arrived 1,500 years ago. Their population grew, using up the island's natural resources until it could no longer sustain them and became a wasteland. They could not build boats to escape for lack of wood, fishing was effected, the eroded soil barely produced enough food for them to survive. Oral traditions claim that warfare broke out along with starvation and sickness.

Later as the culture was beginning to rebuild itself, waves of slave traders arrived taking all the healthy individuals, breaking down their culture once more. Then Missionaries arrived converting the vulnerable population to Christianity and destroying the Rapa Nui artworks, buildings and sacred objects.

After many attempts of ownership by the French, British and other governments, who basically gave up, all of Rapa Nui's pure blood population died out. Chile annexed the island in 1888.

The "heads" on Easter Island are called Moai, they were placed along the coast, always facing inland, probably to honor various chiefs. There was an obsession and competition to build the most Moai, at one time they numbered over 1,000 and formed an almost unbroken line along the coast.

The Moai were carved in the quarry near the volcano, Rano Raraku, and rolled to their destinations over Palm Tree logs lubricated with Palm oil. This further decimated the forests. The Moai were situated on massive block platforms called an Ahu. The original people were master stone carvers and engineers.

There are no other statues in the world that resemble the Moai at Easter Island. Much of the history of the island is still a mystery.
You can sail more than 1,100 miles any direction from Easter Island without sighting an inhabited land
You can sail more than 1,100 miles any direction from Easter Island without sighting an inhabited land
Crater of the volcano Rana Raraku
Crater of the volcano Rana Raraku
Hanga Roa, the only town
Hanga Roa, the only town
Ahu Tahai, site of restored moai
Ahu Tahai, site of restored moai
The hat and eyes were later developments in moai construction
The hat and eyes were later developments in moai construction
The larger moai weigh 30 or more tons
The larger moai weigh 30 or more tons
The stonework in front is an Ahu, platform for moai
The stonework in front is an Ahu, platform for moai
Moais always faced towards the island to protect from the great unknown from the sea
Moais always faced towards the island to protect from the "great unknown" from the sea
Another area of moai
Another area of moai
closeup
closeup
The quarry where moai were carved
The quarry where moai were carved
Many unfinished moai
Many unfinished moai
At the quarry moai face the sea, ready for transport
At the quarry moai face the sea, ready for transport
Modern day Eastern Islanders
Modern day Eastern Islanders
quarry
quarry
Beach at Anakena
Beach at Anakena
The best (and sexiest) show on the trip
The best (and sexiest) show on the trip
Everybody is so happy!
Everybody is so happy!