Located at the Heart of the Pacific Ocean, Easter Island, otherwise known as “Rapa Nui,” sits 2336 miles west of Santiago, Chile. It is considered to be one of the most remote islands on Earth; “Navel of the World,” some would call it.

If you have witnessed National Geographic’s feature about it, you would link the name, Easter Island, to its well-known gigantic statues (around 18 feet tall) ┬ámade by the earliest Rapa Nui people – more than 800 of them scattered all over the land (and sea). One of the places around the world that I am dying to study and visit. ­čśë

Santiago Chile to Easter Island

Easter Island has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is protected within the Rapa Nui National Park.

What piques my curiosity?

Moai Statues in Easter Island

MOAI STATUES

According to archaeologists, these Moai Statues (Stone Giants) represented a god, a mythical creature, or a revered ancestor. These statues weigh 14 tons each based on the studies of interested parties; explorers, ethnographers, and other archaeologists. Ever single Moai shows a human head on a torso in a masculine form carved from rough, hardened, volcanic ash. These were believed to be carved, sculpted, and erected in the early years (1400 to 1600 AD) with the Moai backs facing the sea.

RICH HISTORY: Societal Collapse

Easter Island Map

I find the history and popular myths of the Easter Island to be a huge lesson to the small and huge societies of the world. From the rise of a thriving culture of the earliest inhabitants of the land, to the gradual extinction of natural resources that led to obvious downfall of the whole civilization. Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, identified five factors of Societal Collapse: Climate Change, Hostile Neighbors, Collapse of Essential Trading Partners, Environmental Problems, and Failure to adapt to Environmental Issues. Thus, citing Easter Island as the best example.

Rapa Nui’s past focused on class systems and chiefs that hold great power. Different clans made Moais to worship their ancestors to provide them with good health, land fertility, animals, and good fortune. Hence, the Moais were erected near the coast line that watches over the descendants (turning their backs from the sea). The people moved the heavy Moais using tree trunks that act as rollers underneath the huge volcanic rock statues. Due to the constant building of Moais, constant cutting down of trees, constant worship, the clans doesn’t have much time in planting new trees because they were focused on carving, erecting, worshiping. Resources diminished. People starved and opted to become cannibals to survive. The society died.

Moai in Easter Island

Power and Greed. These are the two words that best describes the situation of the ancient natives of Rapa Nui. What remains now is a lesson of all lessons. The remains of the giant structures that triggered destruction of their own civilization. Remnants from the past society.

This is why I am itching to travel to Rapa Nui. ­čÖé