Destination guide: Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Easter Island

About Easter Island (Rapa Nui)

Easter Island or Rapa Nui is located some 3800 kilometers (2361 miles) west of the Chilean coast, deep in the Pacific Ocean. Geographically, it sits south of the Tropic of Capricorn and is the easternmost of all Polynesian Islands. The island's surface measures 164 square kilometers (63 sq. mi.), and is home to over 3800 residents. The island's capital and only settlement is Hanga Roa, located on the southwest side.

The island is also called "the navel of the world" and offers an excellent climate, lovely beaches and an aura of mystery that remains unexplained. Archeologists and paleontologists have worked for years to unravel (among other things) the secrets of the Easter Island statues known as moais.

In addition to cave engravings and ceremonial sites, the moais are the only remaining vestiges of the ancient Rapa Nui people, a detail that has fueled ample Easter Island mythology through the years. One legend explains that Easter Island was formed by the god Make-Make which gave rise to the Tangata-Manu (birdman) cult.

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