Easter Island, Rano Raraku, moais
Easter Island, Rano Raraku
Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui, Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.
Polynesian people most likely settled on Easter Island in the early second millennium CE, and created a thriving and industrious culture as evidenced by the island's numerous enormous stone moai and other artifacts. However, human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources which severely weakened the Rapa Nui civilization. By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island's population had dropped to 2,000–3,000 from an estimated high of approximately 15,000 just a century earlier. European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.
Rano Raraku is a volcanic crater formed of consolidated volcanic ash, or tuff, and located on the lower slopes of Terevaka in the Rapa Nui National Park. It was a quarry for about 500 years until the early eighteenth century, and supplied the stone from which about 95% of the island's known moai were carved. Rano Raraku is a visual record of moai design vocabulary and technological innovation, where 397 moai remain.