Tiny, unique and remote Easter Island in the South Pacific has become a mesmeric destination for historians and travellers alike. The mystery surrounding the Moai statues is what brings most visitors here: it is still unknown today how they were carved or how they were transported around the island. There are many myths about Easter Island so we thought we’d take a look at some of the known facts about this mysterious destination.
• Completely isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the island is 3,700km west of the coast of continental Chile.
• The cultural and archaeological treasures of Easter Island were the first of any Pacific island nation to be registered by UNESCO on its World Heritage List.
• The name Easter Island was given by Jacob Roggeveen, the first recorded European visitor to the island on 5 April 1722, which so happened to be Easter Sunday.
• There are nearly 900 Moai on Easter Island, in various stages of construction.
• The average size of a Moai statue is 13 feet tall and 14 tons.
• Built to honour a chieftain or important people the natives believed the spirit of the person would forever watch over the tribe and bring good fortune. This is why the statues are called Moai: the word comes from Rapa Nui (the Polynesian language of Easter Island) and means “so that he can exist”.
• None of the Moai statues were standing when scientists first arrived, those upright today have been re-erected.
• Although commonly known as the ‘Easter Island heads’ this is a misconception as it was discovered in 2012 that all of the heads have full bodies which have become submerged.
Last updated: 16 Jun 2017