Easter Island has been synonymous with the huge, spectacular stone mololiths, known as Moais, which once dotted its landscape. Located over 2,000 miles from the nearest population center, (Tahiti and Chile), it is one of the most isolated places on Earth. In the 1860s, Tahitian sailors gave the island the name Rapa Nui, meaning ‘Great Rapa’ due to its resemblance to another island in Polynesia. Only 64 square miles in size, this tiny island can be described an open air museum for the huge stone Moais scattered everywhere. These mysterious carved figures, massive in size, some weighing 50 tons, stand more than ten meters high, gazing out across rolling hills, mountains and extinct volcanoes towards crystal clear waters.
Dutch sea captain Jacob Roggeveen, who came upon the island on Easter Day in 1722, named it Easter Island. Today, the land, people and language are all referred to locally as Rapa Nui. Hanga Roa is the tiny capital where most of the 2,000 inhabitants live. About 69% of the islanders are descendants of the original Polynesian ancestors. The Easter Island was annexed by Chile in 1888. For quite sometime mystery theories were abound regarding the early ancestors of the Easter Island and the gigantic stone sculptures. Some called it the remnants of a lost civilization while others ascribed the Moai statues to extra terrestrial influence. But subsequent scientific investigation has proved that the original inhabitants of Easter Island were of Polynesian descent.