Easter Island: One Of The Most Unique Places In The World

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The iconic images of the giant stone statues located on Easter Island, Chile have whetted many wanderlust travel appetites throughout the world. Not an easy place to get to, Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is the most isolated inhabited place in the world. It’s 2,300 miles from Chile’s west coast and 2,500 miles from Tahiti. The next closest settlement of humans is 1,200 miles to the west. This massive distance from other lands makes its history just that much more incredible. It’s believed that the first people arrived there from Polynesia around 300-400 A.D. The mere fact that these people were able to even find this island that was so far away from their homeland is an amazing feat in itself. But then these settlors also went on a statue-building rampage for centuries that left the island covered with nearly 900 stone busts known as moai (pronounced “moe-eye”). These moai were carved from volcanic quarries, transported over rugged terrains without the use of wheels, and somehow hoisted onto giant platforms called ahu. It’s still not precisely known why these statues were created, but they were obviously very important to the Rapa Nui due to what must have been a tremendously large use of their resources. The moai range from about 7 to 32 feet in height and average about 13 tons in weight. The tallest one weighs about 82 tons, and some even larger ones were left unfinished and still attached to bedrock when the work on them suddenly ceased. They don’t know for sure why the Rapa Nui stopped building moai or why the civilization crumbled, but they do believe there were civil wars and general destruction of the moai throughout the island. Likewise there is strong speculation that shortages of wood to transport and raise the statues contributed to the cessation of work on the statues. The Rapa Nui themselves pulled many of the moai down during their times of conflict, and it’s also believes that some of them were damaged by earthquakes and tsunamis throughout the centuries. All the moai that are standing today are upright due restorations in the 20th century. When standing and facing the ocean as they were originally erected they make some of the most stunning views anywhere in the world.

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