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About Rapa Nui

Easter Island (called Rapa Nui by its inhabitants) is a volcanic island at the most southeastern point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania 2,200 miles west of Chile. This remote, 65 square mile island is renowned for its nearly 1,000 monumental statues, called moai, which were created by the early Rapa Nui people. UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site in 1995.


First settled hundreds of years ago by Polynesians, European explorers ended Easter Island’s long isolation. In 1722 a Dutch explorer, Jacob Roggeveen, came upon the island. A Spanish Captain, Don Felipe Gonzales, was the next to land at Easter Island, in 1770. The famed English explorer, Captain James Cook, stopped briefly in 1774, and a French admiral and explorer, La Perouse, spent 11 hours on the island in 1786. in 1862 half the population was seized by Peruvian slave traders to sell in Peru. Ultimately freed in 1863, most of them had already died of European diseases and when 15 islanders managed to return, they brought smallpox. The resulting epidemic nearly wiped out the population.  The island was annexed by Chile in the late 19th century and now maintains an economy based largely on tourism.

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