How many of these facts about Easter Island did you already know?
Where else on Earth can you immerse yourself in unique traditions, witnessing war dances, getting up close and personal with magical moai statues, and enjoying stunning beaches like these?
Enter the tiny, remote Easter Island in the South Pacific.
It’s a truly mesmeric destination for intrigued historians and adventure-loving travellers alike. Just how did those enormous statues get there? How many are there and what on earth are they?! Read our five top facts about Easter Island and get to the bottom of some of the mysteries (well, as far as you can).
Easter Island’s size is pretty tiny!
From the air Easter Island looks like a rough triangle, and at just 23km long and 11km wide, its area is just 163 square km. At its highest point, Mount Terevaka, it reaches just 600m above sea level, though the rest of the land is relatively hilly overall.
There are three extinct volcanoes on the island and much of its land is thickly packed with cellular and black or rust-coloured tuffaceous lava as a result.
The climate’s subtropical, mostly sunny and dry with average temperatures of 23°C during the warmest months, January, February and March. The average annual rainfall is just 49 inches, which mostly comes down during June and July, while September is the driest month. There are only 31 wild flowering plants, 14 ferns and 14 types of moss on the island!
Easter Island is technically part of Chile
There are nearly a thousand giant heads on Easter Island!
Read “facts about Easter Island” and you just know you’re going to learn something about the massive moai that are so iconic to this amazing place.
Those huge stone sculptures are believed to represent the faces of Rapi Nui ancestors. And when we say “huge” we mean it – the average moai height is four metres, and width is 1.6 metres, meaning these things tend to weigh around 12.5 tonnes.
There are more than 900 of these sculptures dotted around the island, carved and placed there by the indigenous people between 1100 and 1680. Most are carved out of compressed and solidified volcanic ash and no-one knows why so many of them have been toppled over, nor how the ancient people even managed to move them. Got any ideas?!
Every single statue faces inwards from the coast, symbolising protection, and – contrary to popular belief – the bodies of each head are buried beneath the ground.
The island is also called Rapa Nui
Dutch admiral Jacob Roggeveen coined the name “Easter Island” – or more precisely “Paasch-Eyland” (that’s Dutch) – when he became the very first European to turn up on its shores on Easter Sunday, 1772.
The indigenous name for the island is “Rapa Nui”, or “Great Rapa”, but the oldest name known is “Te Pito O Te Henua”, which means “The World’s Navel”. Cool eh!?
The first Easter Island natives were Polynesian
According to legend, it was the ancient Polynesian chief Hotu Matu’a who first brought his tribe to Easter Island many moons ago. No-one seems to know exactly how long ago that was though, with some records mooting 800 years and others 1,700 years. Quite different, we know.
Hotu Matu’a and his people are believed to have come from the Marquesas Islands, reaching Easter Island by canoe and introducing species like bananas, sugarcanes and chickens. Apparently they lived there undisturbed for generations, until those pesky Europeans arrived in the eighteenth century!
Yes – you can live on Easter Island!
Easter Island is considered to be the most remote of all the world’s inhabited islands, with around 8,000 residents. It takes at least five hours to get there from its closest neighbour, Chile, some 3,800km away.
With no harbours, you can only arrive on Easter Island by plane. And as soon as you arrive, you’ll get an amazing sense of peace and quiet on this beautiful island that’s virtually pollution-free. Just a quick look at the crystal clear seawaters will give you a better idea – it’s transparent up to a depth of 60m!
If you’re looking for more than facts about Easter Island and you want to see this beautiful, mysterious place for real, click here to head to our trip page and book your Bucket List adventure now.
(Know any better facts about Easter Island that we’re missing? Get in touch and let us know so we can add them to the list!)