Rapa Nui National Park is situated in Easter Island, Chile. It is one of the World Heritage Site since 1995. It is a national park and a protected wildlife area. Besides having natural value, the place also carries cultural value in it. Architecture and sculpture within the Polynesian context displays amazing culture of the place.
Easter Island is 3,700 kilometres from the coast of continental Chile. The nearest island to it is 1770 kilometres away. It is believed to be the most remote inhabited island on the planet. It covers an area of 16,628 hectares. Around 7000 hectares of surface area comes under the World Heritage property.
It is believed that the Easter island was colonized toward the end of the first millennium of the Christian era. Initially, there came a small group of settlers from Eastern Polynesia. There cultural works are manifested in great works such as the ahu –ceremonial platforms- and carved moai. These are colossal statues which represent their ancestors. They were built during 11th to 17th centuries. Presently, these have become Rapa Nui National Park’s most prominent attributes.
According to some studies, the depletion of natural resources had brought about an ecological crisis. This had eventually led to the decline of the ancient Rapa Nui society by the 16th century. Then, the original cult of the ancestor was replaced by the cult of the man-bird. The Europeans first arrived in island in 1722.
The archaeological site is estimated to have about 900 statues and more than 300 ceremonial platforms. Besides these, there are thousands of structures related to agriculture, funeral rites, housing and production, and other types of activities. The most precious among those are moai. The moai range in height from 2 m to 20 m. Most of these are carved from the yellow-brown lava tuff using simple picks (toki) made from hard basalt. These were then lowered down the slopes into previously dug holes. There are many kinds of them and of different sizes. The rock art sites including pictographs and petroglyphs of large variety of styles, techniques and motifs are another valuable sitein the park. There is also a village of ceremonial nature named Orongo. It stands out because of its location and architecture. The housing and productive structures are of extreme interest for archaeologists.
Currently, the island is inhabited by descendants of the ancient Rapa Nui. There are immigrants from diverse backgrounds which has led to mixed population. To get there, one can take long flights from Santiago, Chile and Tahit. There is pleasant weather throughout the year adding to tourism year-round. People can hire cars, mountain bikes and motorcycles here. These helps them to exploring different places. There are beautiful beaches where tourists can relax as well. One can even go for diving and surfing for enjoyment. So, the place is not restricted to just cultural value. But, it offers a wide range of recreational activities for tourists. Thus, this makes Rapa Nui National Park as one of the best tourist destinations.