Easter Island is located about halfway between Chile and French Polynesia. It is one of the most remote places on earth. However, anytime someone sees a photo of the Moai (the statues on Easter Island), they know immediately where they were taken.
Easter Island was formed via volcanic action caused by a hotspot beneath the tectonic plate, just like Hawaii's formation. The island still has, in addition to it's main volcanoes, smaller satellite cones.
The first humans to reach Easter Island were from Polynesia or the Marquesas. The fact that they traveled over 2000 miles to get here is indeed amazing in itself.
At one time or another, the statues were knocked down by the islanders. One possible cause is inter-tribal wars caused by the lack of resources on the island and the larger population, where the opposing tribe would knock down the Moai of the other. Another theory is that the islanders just quit having faith in the Moai and gave up their construction.
With other adverse situations such as slave raids from Peru, diseases from other European and South American peoples, the population went from around 12000 during the time of the Moai to 111. Easter Island was then annexed by Chile in 1883. However, the colonization plan Chile was planning on didn't materialize as well as initially thought, so they sold the island to a sheep farming company which was ended in 1953. Now it is tourism that keeps the island and the Rapa Nui people going.
The main town in the island is Hanga Roa. 95% of the population of the island live here as it is the only place with electricity and running water. You can see the airport right at the edge of town. I was told that to buy land here on the island, one must be of Rapa Nui descent. Thus, the island is kept more laid back and not all the built up development we see in other Pacific Islands. It was relaxing and an easy place to stay.
Te Pito Kura
This is the Navel of the World. Legend has it that the island's first king, Hotu Matu'a brought it from a mythical island called Hiva. It is supposed to possess heavy doses of "mana", the spirtual power bestowed by the gods. However, it seems to be just a local rock rather than brought from another location.
It cost a lot of money to restore these Moai and it was the Japanese Government and a private construction company from Japan, Tadano that got this project done. Tadano supplied the crane to lift and move these huge stone structures.
The quarry contains 397 moai in various stages of carving. The stone that they were using was lapilli tuff which is a hardened volcanic ash. A large moai would take up to 2 years to be carved by a team of workers. Broken moai were abandoned since their "mana" was considered to be gone.
This is the ceremonial village where the Birdman Competition took place
Ana Kai Tangata
To get to the man cave, we hiked down to the entrance of the cave that has been worn away by wave erosion.
These are some of the remains of bird paintings made from natural earth pigments. I was told that in 1914 when Routledge was here that one of the birds was superimposed on a European ship, thus showing how recent these paintings were created.