Easter Island

 

Easter Island is one of the remotest places on earth.  It is located in the southern Pacific Ocean, about 3,700 km from the coast of South America and over 2,000 km from the nearest inhabited island. The island is known for its stone statues.
Easter Island consists of old volcanoes with three crater lakes. It has an area of 163 square kilometres and a population of slightly over 5,000.

The people who live there call the island Rapa Nui.  Polynesian settlers arrived on Easter Island in the first millennium AD. There the inhabitants lived isolated from the rest of the world until a Dutch navigator reached the island on Easter Day 1722. At the end of the 19th century Chile occupied the island and turned it into a national park.


Conflicts between clans, as well as diseases and natural disasters diminished the population of Easter Island. By the end of the 19th century, only a hundred people inhabited it. In the course of the 20th century, more and more people from Chile moved to the island. In 1995 UNESCO made Easter Island a World Heritage Site.

The main attraction of the Easter Island are over 600 stone statues called moai, which are scattered across the island. They were made by the early inhabitants, in honour of their ancestors.  Some of them are over 10 meters tall and weigh up to 90 tons. The islanders carved the statues from volcanic rock and put them on pedestals. They cut down trees and used them as logs to transport the statues to the places where they now stand. Hardly any trees were left on the island when the Europeans arrived there.


Most of the statues were destroyed when fighting and conflicts arose between families on the island. Archaeologists and scholars have been trying to reconstruct some of the statues and restore them to their original places.

 

Stone statues on Easter Island

Stones statues on Easter Island

 

 

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Words

  • ancestor =  member of your family who lived a long time ago
  • area = size
  • arrive = get to a place , reach
  • attraction = something special to see
  • carve = cut
  • century = a hundred years
  • clan = large group of families
  • consist of = is made up of
  • crater = round open top of a volcano
  • diminish = to make smaller
  • disease = illness
  • hardly = almost none
  • in honour = to show how much you admire or respect someone
  • inhabitant = person who lives in a place
  • isolated = alone
  • located = situated, to be found
  • log = round, thick piece of wood from a tree
  • millennium = a thousand years
  • natural disaster =  a sudden event caused by nature, like an earthquake, flood or volcanic eruption
  • navigator = a person who explores faraway places by ship
  • occupy = to take control of a place with an army
  • pedestal = base, platform
  • Polynesia =islands in the central and southern Pacific Ocean
  • remote = distant, far away
  • scatter = spread
  • settler = someone who goes to a place where not many people have lived before
  • slightly = a little
  • statue = picture of a person, god or animal that is made in stone or metal
  • weigh = how heavy something is
  • World Heritage Site = place that is listed  by the United Nations  because it is beautiful or culturally important