Its Polynesian name is Rapa Nui, but better known to everyone else as Easter Island.
This speck in the south east Pacific Ocean has been occupied by humans for about fourteen hundred years, but that is just an estimate as the date of the first arrival is unknown.
It is amazing that it was actually found at all because Easter Island is one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, with its nearest neighbour being Pitcairn Island a mere 2,075 kilometres (1,289 miles) away to the south west. These days, Easter Island is a territory of Chile, its nearest landmass, which is 3,512 kilometres (2,182 miles) east of the island.
Easter Island is best known for its massive stone statues of people, called Moai. There are 887 of these monoliths, which carbon dating suggests where carved in a period starting in the 1100’s and continued for at least another 500 years. Depending on size, each of these Moai took a team of carvers one year to complete. Most of the statues remain uncompleted in the quarries, with only about 25% actually completely installed, with the rest left where they were during their journey to their final destinations.
Today, much of the island is preserved within the Rapa Nui National Park, and many descendants of the original Rapa Nui people still live on the island.
Easter Island is so named because it was discovered by Europeans, Dutch explorers, on Easter Sunday 1722.
The main town on East Island is Hanga Roa which has a permanent population of just over 3,000, which represents almost 90% of the total population of the island. There are few facilities in the town, although as tourism is now the main industry there is a range of accommodation and restaurants, and businesses which can arrange tours or hire cars for sightseeing.
The island is triangular is shape and just 24.6kms (15.3 miles) long by 12.3kms (7.6 miles) at its widest point. Once you leave the main township roads are mainly dirt and can get quite rough at times.
The main attraction, of course, is to view the Moai and the Rano Raraku Quarry in which they were carved. It is a volcanic island, which has created some stunning landscapes for visitors to enjoy. There are a couple of sandy beaches for swimming and some nearby offshore islands where snorkelling and diving are popular, and the island is riddled with caves, many of which remain unexplored.
Easter Island is difficult to reach, there are only a few scheduled flights there, but worth the effort to experience on of the most remote and strangest places on Earth.