Easter Island (Rapa Nui in the Rapa Nui language, Isla de Pascua in Spanish language), is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. The island is a special territory of Chile. Easter Island is famous for its monumental statues, called moai (IPA: /ˈmoʊа/), created by the Rapanuipeople. It is a world heritage site with much of the island protected within the Rapa Nui Nation Par.
the name "Easter Island" was given by the island's first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer Roggeveen, who encountered Easter Island on Easter Sunday 1722, while searching for Davis or David's island.The island's official Spanish name, Isla de Pascua, is Spanish for "Easter Island".
The 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, l 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 refugees.
There are several hypotheses about the "original" Polynesian name for Easter Island, including Te pito o te henua, or "The Navel of the World" 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, Mata-ki-Te-rangi, means "Eyes that talk to the sky."
Location and physical geography Orthographic projection centered on Easter Island. Easter Island, Sala y Gómez, South America and the islands in between Easter Island is one of the world's most isolated inhabited islands. It is 3,600 km (2,237 mi) west of continental Chile and 2,075 km (1,290 mi) east of Pitcairn (Sala y Gómez, 415 kilometres to the east, is closer but uninhabited).
It has a latitude close to that of Caldera, Chile, 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.
Geology Easter Island is a volcanic high island, consisting of three extinct volcanoes: Terevaka (altitude 507 metres) forms the bulk of the island. Two other volcanoes, Poike and Rano Kau, form the eastern and southern headlands and give the island its approximately triangular shape. There are numerous lesser cones and other volcanic features, including the crater Rano Raraku the cinder cone Puna Pau and many volcanic caves including lava tubes.
Easter Island and surrounding islets such as Motu Nui, Motu Ii are the summit of a large volcanic mountain which rises over two thousand metres from the sea bed. It is part of the Sala y Gómez Ridge, a (mostly submarine) mountain range with dozens of seamounts starting with Pukao and then Moai, two seamounts to the west of Easter Island, and extending 2,700 km (1,700 mi) east to the Nazca Seamount.
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. Only at Easter Island, its surrounding islets and Sal y Gómez does the Sala y Gómez Ridge form dry land.
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 Edmunds.
Motu Nui islet, part of the Birdman Cult ceremony For unknown reasons, a coup by military leaders called matatoa had brought a new cult based around a previously unexceptional god Make-make. The cult of the birdman (Rapanui: tangata manu) was largely to blame for the island's misery of the late 18th and 19th centuries. 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 toppled. The huri mo'ai - 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 at Orongo.
The first recorded European contact with the island was on 5 April (Easter Sunday) 1722when Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen visited for a week and estimated there were 2,000 to 3,000 inhabitants on the island. The next foreign visitors (on 15 November 1770) were two Spanish ships, San Lorenzo and Santa Rosalia They reported the island as largely uncultivated, with a seashore lined with stone statues. Four years later, in 1774, British explorer James Cookvisited 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 now 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 almost the entire population of Easter Island in the 1860s. In December 1862, Peruvian slave raiders struck Easter Island. Violent 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 the horrors of Peru, but brought with them smallpox and started an epidemic, which decimated 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.
Jean-Baptiste Dutrou-Bornier bought up all of the island apart from the missionaries area around Hanga 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 islands . 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.
"Queen Mother" Koreto with her daughters "Queen" Caroline and Harriette in 1877 From that point on and into the present day, the island's population slowly recovered. But with over 97% of the population dead or left in less than a decade, much of the island's cultural knowledge had been lo
Easter Island was annexed by Chile on September 9, 1888, by Policarpo Toro, 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 people.
Until the 1960s, the surviving Rapanui were confined to the settlement of Hanga Roa and the rest of the island was rented to the Williamson-Balfour Company as a sheep farm until 1953. The island was then managed by the Chilean Navy until 1966 and at that point the rest of the island was reopened. In 1966, the Rapanui were given Chilean citizenship.
On July 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 Valparaíso Region.
Ecology View of Easter Island from space, 2001. The Poike peninsula is on the right. Easter Island, together with its closest neighbour, the tiny island Isla Sala y Gómez 5 km 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 subtropical 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, shrubs, ferns, and grasses. A large palm, Paschalococos disperta, related to the Chilean wine palm(Jubaea chilensis), was one of the dominant trees, as was the toromiro tree (Sophoratoromiro). The palm is now extinct, and the toromiro is extinct in the wild. However, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the GöteborgBotanical 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 bulrusm in the crater lakes of Rano Raraku and Rano Kau. Presence of these reeds (which are called totora in the Andes) 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 vast seabird colonies, no longer found on the main island, and several species of landbirds, which have become extinct.
Destruction of the ecosystem "The overall picture for Easter is the most extreme example of forest destruction in the Pacific, and among the most extreme in the world: the whole forest gone, and all of its tree species extinct.
Panorama of Anakena beach, Easter Island. The moai pictured here was the first to be raised back into place upon its ahu in 1955 by islanders using the ancient method. Trees are sparse on modern Easter Island, rarely forming small groves. The island once had a forest of palms, and it has generally been thought that native Easter Islanders deforested the island in the process of erecting their statues. Experimental archaeology has clearly demonstrated that some statues certainly could have been placed on "Y" shaped wooden frames called miro manga erua and then pulled to their final destinations on ceremonial sites. 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 contributed to deforestation and other changes, though such speculation is unproven.
Jared Diamond disregards the influence of climate but still gives an extensive look into the collapse of the ancient Easter Islanders in his book Collapse. 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 fishand bird bonesas 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 rats became leading items of diet and there are contested hints that cannibalism occurred, based on human remains associated with cooking sites, especially in caves.
In his article "From Genocide to Ecocide: The Rape of Rapa Nui", Benny Peisrn notes evidence of self-sufficiency on Easter Island when Europeans first arrived. Although stressed, the island may still have had some (small) trees, mainly toromiro. Cornelis Bouman, Jakob Roggeveen's captain, stated in his log book, "... of yams, bananas and small coconut palms we saw little and no other trees or crops." According to Carl Friedrich Behrens, Roggeveen's 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, though the reliability of Behrens as a source is questionable. By contrast, Peiser considers these reports to indicate that considerable numbers of large trees still existed at that time, which is explicitly contradicted by the Bouman quote above.
In his book A Short History of Progress, Ronald Wright speculates that for a generation or so, "there was enough old lumber to haul the great stones and still keep a few canoes seaworthy for deep water". When the day came 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 Kaocrater which, according to Wright, were planted by one of the first "long-ear" settlers. A one-man craft of bound Scirpus totorareeds was called a pora. There were larger reed ships, some containting three masts with reed sails and capable of holding over 400 individuals, and are depicted in petroglyphs, roof 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 Europeans arrived in the 18th century, the worst was over and they only found one or two living souls per statue.
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 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 M. de La Pérouse visited Easter Island and his gardener declared that "three days' work a year" would be enough to support the population.
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 inhabitants."
That oral traditions of the islanders are obsessed with cannibalism is sometimes taken as evidence supporting a rapid collapse. For example, to severely insult an enemy one would say, "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth." Diamond suggests that this means the food supply of the people ultimately ran out however, cannibalism was widespread across Polynesian cultures, rendering his conclusion speculative.