The Easter Islands are located in the eastern part of the South Pacific and
about 3,700 km from South America. The nearest neighboring island is Pitcairn,
which is 1,800 km away. Politically, the Easter Islands belong to Chile.
Geographically, however, they belong to the Polynesian Islands, which in the
South Pacific include the Cook Islands, French
Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, American
Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu as well as Wallis and Futuna.
They have an extension of only 163 km².
Kevin Costner's film "Rapa Nui" in 1993 brought the islands into the
consciousness of numerous people. This is the name of the islands in the native
language. In addition, the archipelago is still known in Spanish under the name
"Isla de Pascua".
The archipelago lies at latitude 27 ° 09 'south and longitude 109 ° 26'
west. This makes the Easter Islands the easternmost and almost also the
southernmost group of islands in the South Pacific.
The group of islands was originally called Te Pito o Te Henua, which means
"navel of the world".
Today the world-famous, erected stone figures, which are important witnesses of
a bygone culture, can be found on the islands.
In contrast to all other islands, the Easter Islands are located on the East
Pacific ridge. The coast, which is mainly provided with cliffs, falls steeply
into the sea to a depth of approx. 300 m. The archipelago also consists of three
no longer active volcanoes.
The islands have always attracted fantasists and esotericists who tried to
interpret the lost culture. To this day, however, the writing on Easter Island
has not been deciphered. The Easter Islands are the only group of islands in the
South Pacific that had a type of writing.
The population is generally healthier than the mainland Chileans, as many
diseases such as cholera are non-existent on the island.
The Norwegian anthropologist Thor Hyerdahl (1914-2002) tried in the 1950s with
his Kon-Tiki raft to prove that the Easter Islands and the Polynesian Islands
were settled from South America. As an occasion for his theory, he took the
sweet potato, which is widespread throughout the Polynesian region and clearly
has its origin in Latin America. Recently, however, this thesis was clearly
refuted by DNA studies. The Polynesians are genetically related to the peoples
of Southeast Asia.
The oldest of the stone statues, Ahu Tahai, is dated to the year 690 AD
and the youngest, Ahu Akivi, to the year 1460 AD.
Between these two epochs there was a change to the bird man cult in Orongo
Overpopulation, resource depletion and hunger can be traced back.
During his visit in 1774, James Cook (1728-1779) saw the clashes between the
individual tribes as the statues were tossed from their pedestals.
Around 1840 almost all statues were overturned by human violence or as a result
|Name of the archipelago
||Easter Island/Rapa Nui
|Form of government
||Part of Chile
||In the South Pacific; between latitude 27 ° 09 'south and longitude
109 ° 26' west
||That of Chile
||Around 3,800 (Credit:
Easter Island Facts)
||Of the 3,800 residents, 60% are Rapa Nui, 39% are Caucasian mainland
Chileans and 1% are other.
||The predominant religion is Catholicism.
||Spanish and Rapa Nui, a Polynesian language
||Maunga Terevaka, with a height of 507m
||there are no rivers on the isla
|Largest lake in area
||There are only a number of smaller crater lakes
|International license plate
||RCH, that of Chile
||Chilean Peso (CLP)
|Time difference to CET
||- 7 h
|International phone code
||+ 59, the area code for Chile
|Internet TLD (Top Level Domain)
Easter Island: History
Colonization by the Polynesians
The islanders, the Rapanui, believed that they were descended from Hotu
Matu'a. He had set out from Te Hiva, the land of the ancestors, and landed with
his canoe on Anakena Beach. The founding myth is similar to that of many
Polynesian islands. The island was settled from Eastern Polynesia at the same
time as Hawaii was settled.
Abbreviationfinder website, it is believed that the first settlers came from the Marquesa Islands or
Mangareve Islands in French Polynesia and made their way to Easter Island
between 400-600 AD. Signs of this are tattoos and tapa clothing.
A second settlement probably took place around 1400 from the Austral Islands.
Between the 7th and 8th centuries, the population of Easter Island increased
rapidly. Scientists suspect that it was around this time that the sweet potato
arrived on the island and that this nutritious new food source was the cause.
Around 1350 armed conflicts arose and the individual tribes overturned each
other's statues. Here, too, there are only guesses for the causes. One attempt
to explain it is the assumption of a small ice age, which fell over Europe
around the same time. Or the arrival of the second wave of colonization from the
Austral Islands under the leadership of the legendary Chief Chief Hotu Matua.
However, it is fairly certain that the island was once heavily forested. This
forest was gradually cut down for the transport of the many statues until the
islanders were literally trapped on their island because they could no longer
build boats. As a result of the lack of food, the islanders turned to
cannibalism. On Easter Island this was not religious or ritual, but people ate
human flesh because it tasted good.
With this change on the island, a counter-cult or religion to the statue
worshipers was introduced at the same time.
The bird man cult was introduced. There were annual competitions for the first
bird's egg on Mata Nui. The one who first came back from the island with a
bird's egg became the bird man for a year. This title was associated with the
power of disposal over the scarce food for the tribe of the victor. The
Vogelmannkult was thus an ingenious invention to avoid armed conflicts and to
bring them to the level of a playful competition.
It is now considered certain that the "long-eared" tribe ruled the "short-eared"
tribe until 1680. But the short-eared people planned an uprising as a result of
which they drove the long-eared people to the Poike peninsula in the northeast
of the island. There they holed up and dug a trench to burn the expected
attackers in it. However, since a long-eared woman was married to a "short-eared
woman", the plan was betrayed and the short-eared people drove the long-eared
ones into the ditch, where they burned.
Around Easter 1722 the Dutch admiral Jakob Roggeveen (1659-1729) reached the
archipelago. On his shore leave he wreaked horrific slaughter among the
natives. He gave the island its current name because he entered the island on
However, at that time the population was already decimated from approx. 20,000
to 4,000 residents due to armed conflicts between the rulers - the long-eared
people - and their subjects - the short-eared people.
Gonzalez followed in 1770, James Cook in 1774 on his second voyage and in 1786
la Perouse (1741-1788). He documented the statues on the island in his Atlas du
Every now and then in the following years whalers, seal hunters and slave
traders reached the island. In the year
Annexing the island
Human traffickers on ships from Peru caught around 1,400 locals in 1862 and
dragged them to the sugar cane plantations and mines in Peru. Among these was
the entire intelligentsia as well as the king of the island.
After protests by missionaries and diplomats, few survivors returned to the
island, with the effect that they infected those who remained with the deadly
In 1866 French missionaries came to the island and successfully converted the
population to Catholicism. At the same time, business people from Tahiti came to
buy land to raise cattle. Both groups sent Rapa Nui to Tahiti, from where the
returnees brought in the leprosy.
By 1880 only 110 of the Rapa Nui were still alive.
Chile annexed the island in 1888 after successfully asserting itself against
Bolivia and Peru in the 1883 war. It was hoped that with the opening of the
Panama Canal, the port on the island would gain in importance, but this did not
As a result, Chile soon leased the island to a British wool company that stayed
on the island until 1953. As a result, the soil became deserted and the stones
from the archaeological sites were used to build fences. The locals were not
allowed to cross the border wall of the capital Hanga Roa.
After the British withdrew, the Chilean Navy took over the
administration. Almost nothing has changed for the locals.
A regional administration was not allowed to be elected until 1965. With
Pinochet's criminal seizure of power in 1973, however, self-determination was
In 1990 democracy was reintroduced.