Travel By Numbers: Easter Island
Greg Fountain picks apart the mysterious Polynesian island
Saturday 03 April 2010
The number of oversize stone carvings of human figures, known as mo'ai, that are scattered across the island. The statues weigh an average of 14 tons. Some stand 30ft tall. Archaeologists believe they represent the spirits of exalted ancestors, although their exact meaning and significance remains uncertain. All but 53 of these mo'ai were carved from tuff (compressed volcanic ash) quarried from the island's Rano Raraku crater. Incomplete and abandoned statues cover the crater, the halt in their production coinciding with the deforestation of the island. The Hotel Taura'a in Hanga Roa offers tours of the main archaeological sites for 32,000 pesos (£40) per person. tauraahotel.cl
Seconds of totality during the solar eclipse that will cast its shadow over Easter Island on 11 July. The last total eclipse passed over in 59(12A)D, before the mo'ai and deforestation of the island. Explore offers a 15-day eclipse tour visiting Chile's Pacific coast and an observatory in the Atacama desert before flying to the island for a four-day stay, accompanied by a guest astronomer for £5,295 per person, including flights explore.co.uk
The hours of fuel that flights from Tahiti and Santiago must have left when they arrive at Mataveri International Airport on Easter Island, the world's most remote airport. LAN Airlines, Chile's national carrier, is the only commercial airline to fly to Easter Island. The nearest airstrip is 1,500 miles away in French Polynesia. No two aircraft are ever permitted to pass the "point of no return" and commit to land. Flights start at £1,800 via New York JFK lan.com
The height, in metres, of Ma'unga Terevaka – the highest point on the island. The summit of this extinct volcano offers views across the entire 23km-width of Isla de Pascua, as the island is known in Spanish. The volcano last erupted 125,000 years ago and it forms the bulk of the island's land mass, along with the Rano Kau crater (pictured) to the south and the eastern headland of Poike. For information about notable landmarks and suggestions of tours contact Sernatur, the Chilean national tourist office. sernatur.cl
The distance, in miles, between mainland Chile and Easter Island. Annexed from its Polynesian inhabitants by Chile on 9 September 1888, the island was leased to the Williamson-Balfour Company – a Scottish-owned business – that ran it as a sheep farm until 1953. The native Rapa Nui people were granted Chilean citizenship in 1966, but not before slavers, disease and civil war had ravaged their society. Visit the Museo Antropológico Sebastiá*Englert in Hanga Roa, the capital, to discover more about the Rapa Nui. museorapanui.cl.
The year Jakob Roggeveen, right, a Dutch explorer in search of Terra Australis, first encountered this dot in the South Pacific. He made landfall on Easter Sunday and named the island Paasch-Eyland ("Easter Island"). Chile declared much of the island a national park 213 years later; Parque Nacional Rapa Nui is also now a Unesco World Heritage site. Admission is 5,000 pesos (£6.50) conaf.cl
The percentage of fish species in the waters surrounding Easter Island that are found nowhere else in the world, including the Easter Island Butterfly Fish, above. With its crystal waters, coral reefs and volcanic origins the coastline is a haven for divers, especially in the area of Motu Nui – an islet off the south coast. The Orca diving centre in Hanga Roa offers diving courses from 223,000 pesos (£285), 27,000 pesos (£35) for accredited divers. seemorca.cl
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