Easter Island Facts: Unravel The Mysteries Of This Secluded Island

Read some Easter Island facts to know about the rongorongo scripture.

Share this article

Easter Island was discovered in 1722, by a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, you can swim around this island in about 20 hours if you wish to! Although, planning a trip to the Rapa Nui National Park would be a much better option!

The island is famous for its Moai statues, which are made of volcanic ash and were carved with stone chisels. The island continues to maintain its air of mystery since the rongorongo scripture, which can reveal many facts about the island and its natives is yet to be deciphered. Keep reading for more interesting facts about Easter Island.

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not also check out Jeju Island South Korea and Wizard Island facts here at Kidadl!

Phases Of Island Culture

Easter Island is one of the most isolated places in the world. There is very little recorded history of the island, and hence, what we now know of the island are scraps of information that have been pieced together from various sources. Most of the knowledge that we have about the history and heritage of this island comes from word of mouth.

Dutch admiral Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to land on this ancient island and named it Paasch-Eyland. However, the natives of this Polynesian island were always more comfortable to be referring to this island as Rapa Nui. The natives and indigenous people identify as the Rapa Nui people as well, and hence, there can be some confusion.

The first settlers of the island are said to have been natives of the Hiva island, which we now know as the Marquesas Islands. The people of the Hiva island are estimated to have been led there by their captain, Hotu Matu'a. The natives of this mythological and ancient island are known to have inhabited the island for a long time before European explorers started making their way into the island. However, these settlers are estimated to have landed on the island around 1500 years ago, in the 1200s. The next recorded event is when Admiral Roggeveen entered the island. Jacob Roggeveen's invasion is timed to have been around 500 years later. Hence, there is a huge gap in information and there is no recorded history of whatever happened on the island during all those years.

The population of the Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, went through serious deteriorations once the European settlers started flowing into the island due to internal feuds. Even before this, the population of Rapa Nui started decreasing by large numbers due to environmental factors, as well as some community-based civil wars that took place among the inhabitants. The situation was further aggravated by issues such as cannibalism among the inhabitants. Hence, this remote island has been through a lot and the indigenous population was even more thinned out due to European diseases and emigration. On top of this, there were many raids by slave traders of Peruvian origin. All of these factors were responsible for the rapid decline of this island's population.

Plant And Animal Life

This tiny island has many fascinating things but it lacks plants and animals. There are very few species of indigenous plants and animals on this small island. There are only a handful of native birds and rodents. There are a few carnivores and reptiles, but that pretty much sums up the expanse of the diversity in terms of animals and plants on the island.

Since the oral tradition is so strong in Rapa Nui, there was rapid deforestation on the island which also led to a decline of the human population. There are speculations that this island was initially a huge forest, but the original settlers eventually started to misuse the available forest cover. The current landscape of Rapa Nui island shows a very clear lack of trees and plants. This is a great concern for Easter Island's population since it means that there are larger chances of erosion. Since the sea level is beginning to rise all around the world due to global warming, the coastline of the island stands at a greater risk of facing rapid and irreversible erosion. Although, conservation efforts to save the hilly terrain of the Rapa Nui island are underway. Wood carving is a popular profession among the natives of the island, and the toromiro tree was the only wild tree in the Rapa Nui island by the time European settlers started to arrive. The woodcarvers of the island exploited the toromiro tree and its wood to such an extent that it is now virtually extinct. If you take a look at the coast of the island, you can notice that there is a marked lack of vegetation, the clear reason is that such levels of deforestation cannot be reversed in the matter of just a few years or even decades.

Rapa Nui culture is engulfed by the Pacific Ocean and the many kinds of fish that are available to the natives and Chilean citizens in abundance. However, there are very few species of animals that one might see on Rapa Nui island itself. Most of the animals that we can now see on the island have come from South America, particularly Chile. This includes poultry fowl and cattle.

Hanga Roa is the main town on Easter Island, a municipality of Chile.

Geography Of Easter Island

Rapa Nui is in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. If you wish to plan a visit to this island, the only way to get here would be through a flight from either Chile or Tahiti.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is 2200 mi (3540.5 km) away from Chile and is run by the Chilean government. The island's population is dependent on the government for many modern facilities such as the internet and telephonic communication, however, at the same time, there are some political institutions that are against the fact that Chile annexed Easter Island.

Easter Island's highest point is Mount Terevaka, which stands 1969 ft (600 m) above sea level. The land is mostly hilly terrain and since it is a volcanic island, the soil is rich in nutrients.

Outsiders On Easter Island

Easter Island's most important attraction is the Moai statues. It is believed that these statues were made in the image of the ancestors of the natives of the Rapa Nui.

The first settlers of the island are said to have been brought in by Hotu Matu'a, who was the leader of the people of Hiva Island. These people lived peacefully on the island for several centuries, before a Dutch explorer arrived on the island and named it after Easter Sunday.

Eventually, European settlers started arriving on the island, followed by Chileans and Peruvian slave traders. This also led to a civil war, however, the Rapa Nui people soon recovered from the effects.

Easter Island Today

Today, Easter Island is famous for its Rapa Nui National Park, which is home to many Moai statues. Speculated to have been built as a remembrance of the ancestors, the Moai statues that remain at the national park today are only a small chunk of the many others that were there.

Before UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Center, the many statues were transported away from Rapa Nui National Park by enthusiasts, collectors, and other countries. In the present day, we can see some of these stone Moai statues even at the British Museum in London.

Today, one of the most pressing questions that prop up is how a Moai statue would have been transported. It is assumed that the members of the island used ropes and wooden sleds in order to place them along the landscape. These statues are also known as the 'Easter Island heads'.

Modern Society At Easter Island

Apart from the Moai statues at Rapa Nui National Park, a trip to Easter Island should also give you a glance at Polynesian cultures through the ceremonial village of Orongo.

Even though Chilean people have made their way into the island and form a majority of the population, the natives still celebrate the Tapati Rapa Nui festival. This festival includes many ceremonial dances and celebrates the string music culture of the natives. One of the fascinating facts is that most people of this island are musicians in some way or the other. The town of Hanga Roa is the only one with internet access on the island.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Easter Island facts, then why not take a look at facts about Providence Rhode Island, or Hawaiian Islands facts.


Written By

Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

Was this article helpful?

Get The Kidadl Newsletter
1,000's of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

By joining Kidadl you agree to Kidadl’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and consent to receiving marketing communications from Kidadl.