Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island) (1995) Back to index
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Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon. A society of Polynesian origin that settled there c. A.D. 300 established a powerful, imaginative and original tradition of monumental sculpture and architecture, free from any external influence. From the 10th to the 16th century this society built shrines and erected enormous stone figures known as moai, which created an unrivalled cultural landscape that continues to fascinate people throughout the world.
The Chilean flag consists of two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; there is a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center representing a guide to progress and honor; blue symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes, and red stands for the blood spilled to achieve independence; design was influenced by the US flag.
Rapa Nui [Spanish: Isla de Pascua], is a triangular-shaped island belonging to Chile, located in the South Pacific Ocean, 3,700 km (2,300 mi) west of the Chilean coast.
| The island was named by the Dutch explorer Jacob
Roggeveen, who landed here on Easter Day in 1722.
The Chilean government annexed the island in 1888. An area on the western coast is reserved by the government for the indigenous population; the remainder is used as grazing land for sheep and cattle.
Easter Island is of considerable archaeological importance. It is the richest site of the megaliths of the Pacific island groups and the only source of evidence of a form of writing in Polynesia.
Easter Island was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995, and in 1998 UNESCO issued a stamp depicting the megaliths.
Very little is known about the people who made the megaliths. The original inhabitants of Easter Island were Polynesians who migrated to the island beginning around ad 400. Descendants of these Polynesian settlers erected the statues between 800 and 1600.
Chile 2001. Se-tenant set from Easter Island, with the megaliths on the left stamp, and the indigenous population greeting a flight coming in on the right stamp.
More than 880 statues remain on the island; they vary in height from 3 to 12 m
(10 to 40 ft). Carved from tuff, a soft volcanic rock, they consist of huge
heads with elongated ears and noses. Material for the statues was quarried from
the crater called Rano Raraku, where modern explorers found an immense
unfinished statue 21 m (68 ft) long. Many of the statues on the burial platforms
bore cylindrical, brimmed crowns of red tuff; the largest crown weighs 27 metric
Excavations have also disclosed hidden caves containing decayed remains of tablets and wooden images, and numerous small wooden sculptures. The tablets are covered with finely carved and stylized figures, which seem to be a form of picture writing.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Chile (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Chile-section, for further information on the individual properties.
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Revised 21 aug 2007