Easter Island

About island: Easter Island

Hundreds of stone idols (moai) of Easter Island have overwhelmed imagination of people for many long years. Some of the them reached the height of 20 meters, weighing 90 tonnes. Various assumptions as to extraterrestrial origin of these idols had been suggested, but today there is quite logic, and even scientifically proven hypothesis about how the ancient civilization could emerge on a single isolated island, and then destroy itself having passed through all the stages of its development.

Easter Island is in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, 4 000 kilometers of Chile and 3 000 kilometers of the French Polynesia. About V century a group of Polynesian seafarers reached the island. It was very difficult to repeat such travel, so almost for a thousand years the Easter Island had been cut from the rest of the world.

Initially, its inhabitants were few, food was abundant, and the island was covered with dense forests. There was no one to war or trade with the islanders lived and worked as a single family. But in the course of centuries the population grew and when all natural resources had been developed (and lands distributed) there emerged social inequality. Society was divided into the long-eared (they were at power and didn’t work) and the short-eared, who worked at the long-eared.

Eventually forests were cut, and bare soils were subject to erosion and were blown with the wind, but the ruling chieftains had to somehow keep their authority and power. And it was about that time that the cult of stone idols (moai) had emerged. 

There are similar statues on the other islands of Polynesia, but there they were made of wood and were only 1-2 meters high. Here they were made of stone or tuff as there was a lot of this perfect carving material at the foot of extinct volcano Rano-Raraku.

As a result of the cult of moai, there had been established a distinct hierarchy of the society. The ruling class was become similar to gods and the giant idols were required to overwhelm the rest of common people. It was necessary to cut additional trees used as rollers for idols. There was a lack of food on the island, but the rulers had their own remedy for the crisis. So, it was decided to install even more idols with painted eyes and hats.

In XV-XVI there occurred a rebellion on the island, during which the short-eared killed all the long-eared, many idols were tumbled down, some of them were left unfinished, but nothing could ever restore the fertility of the island. So, the civilization was completely degraded.

To visit Easter Island and see all this with your own eyes you can take a plane at the capital of Chile, Santiago. Alternatively, you can combine your trip to the island with vacations on Tahiti. There is also a regular air communication between Papeete (the capital of Tahiti) Easter Island.

The island is a triangle. Its largest side is 20 km long. To see all the idols you'll need 1-2 days, if you rent a car or a motor-scooter. However, Easter Island (as Tahiti) has wonderful sand beaches, so you can spend there 3-4 days to deliberately see the idols and have a dip in the ocean.

The only settlement, Hanga-Roa, is located near the airfield. There you can also see the crater of extinct volcano (primary source of fresh water) and visit the island Motu-Kao-Као, to which the cult of bird man was related. All 800 moais are scattered along the coastline of the island.

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