Easter Island Facts for Kids

Easter Island is one of the islands located in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean.  Its a Polynesian island.  The island is known because it has 887 statues that are called Moai.  These statues were made by the Rapa Nui people.

Easter Island

Where is Easter Island Located?

Easter Island is located around 2,300 miles from Chile and around 2,500 miles to the East of Tahiti.

The closest land to the Easter Islands is Chile which is 3,700 kilometers away.

How Big are the Easter Islands?

The Easter Islands are around 64 square miles long and they are found in the South Pacific Ocean.

The island is 24.6 kilometers long and it is 12.3 kilometers wide at the widest part.  It is a total of 163.6 square kilometers long.

The tallest part of the island is a volcano and it is 1,663 feet high.

Easter Island is considered a small island, but it has a lot of interesting things on it such as:

  • Statues
  • Three Volcanoes
  • People that include some Rapa Nui people.

Where Did the Easter Islands Come From?

There is a community that lives on the Easter Islands and they have statues that are located there.  The statues were made by the Rapa Nui people in the year 1250 CE to 1500 CE.

When the statues were built, it is believed that there were over 15,000 people that lived on the island during that time.

Easter Island map

What Are the Statues of Easter Island Like?

The statues are carved statues that people first thought were just heads that were carved.  Later, archeologists decided to dig down into the Earth and look at the statues closer.  When they dug, they found that the statues had bodies too and were not just heads.

The island has over 887 carved heads.  The statues are very tall, some of them are 33 feet tall and they weigh more than 80 tons.  These statues have big necks and square jawlines.

Some of the statues are kneeling and some of them just have a head that is out of the ground.

No one really knows how long these statues have been around or how they even moved.  Some believe that they used log rollers or ropes to move them.  No one is sure how the statues were even carved, and it is still a mystery today.

The statues that are carved are also called moai.  It is believed that these statues were carved at the quarry site by the Rano Rakaku volcano that is an extinct volcano.  The people that carved the statues are thought to have used chisels and stone that is made up of basalt.

Some believe that it took the men around a year to finish one statue and that at least five people were working on one statue at a time.

Only ¼ of the statues were installed where they were supposed to go and most of the other ones are still sitting at the site where they were carved.

Some of the statues had hats or crowns but no one is really sure why they are wearing these things on their heads.

What Do Scientists Believe About the Statues?

As we said above, no one is really sure how the statues were carved or how they ended up where they are but some scientists believe that the Rapa Nui people carved the statues out of a volcanic rock.

They believe that the people moved the volcanic rock to different spots, and they carved them right where they were standing.  Some believe that it took over 100 people to move one statue because of them weighing more than 150 tons each.  Many of the statues are over 13 feet tall!

Are the Easter Islands Popular?

The Easter Islands is one of the most popular tourist attractions.

People from all over the world come to visit the islands and thousands and thousands of people each year visit them.

Who Discovered the Easter Islands?

The first person that is known to have visited the Easter Islands was a Dutch explorer.  The Dutch explorer was named Jacob Roggeveen.  He arrived at Easter Island in the year 1722.

Jacob Roggeveen named the island “Easter Island,” because he arrived at the island on Easter Sunday.  So, on Sunday, April 5, 1722, Easter Island was named.

What Territory Do the Easter Islands Belong To?

The Easter Islands became Chile territory in the year 1888.

The Easter Islands is one of the UNESCO which means that it is a World Heritage Site.  When something is a world heritage site it is protected and there is also a protected Rapa Nui National Park.  When a place is protected, it means that no one can tear it down or build on it.

Volcanoes of Easter Island

Rano Kau volcano on Easter Island

There are three volcanoes on Easter Island.  These volcanoes cause Easter Island to have a shape like a triangle.

The three volcanoes are:

  • Rano Kau
  • Poike
  • Terevaka

Terevaka is the tallest point of the island and is over 1,600 feet above sea level.

The Names of Easter Island

Easter Island has been called more than one name.  One name was “Te Pito o Te Henua” which means “The Center of the World.”  Another name for Easter Island is “Mata-Ki-Te-Rani” which means “Eyes Looking at Heaven.”

One interesting thing about Easter Island is that some believed that it looked like another island that is located in Polynesia called the “Rapa Iti” which means “Little Rapa.”  Since people on the island felt that it looked so much like “Rapa Iti,” they called the Easter Island “Rapa Nui” which means the “Great Rapa.”

People of the Easter Islands

Even though, as we know, Jacob Roggeveen was the first Dutch person to find Easter Island, there were people that lived there way before this happened.  Some people believe that the first people were from

Polynesia and that they came from either:

  • Marquesas
  • Society Islands

It is believed that these people arrived on the island in 318AD and that they have been there throughout history.

In 1950, a man called Thor Heyerdahl thought that Easter Island was first settled by people from South America.  He thought that very smart Indians lived there.  After the research was done, including research on skeletons, it was found that this was wrong and that it was truly the Polynesian people that first inhabited the island.

Why Do Some People Say that the Easter Islands are Mysterious?

Some people believe that the Easter Islands are mysterious because of the statues that are moved and carved.  Since these statues are very heavy, it is a mystery as to how these people moved them.

Also, the fact that these statues are carved is another mystery.  Scientists have different thoughts as to how the people carved them, but there is no true proof.

Some believe that these statues were used for religious purposes.  Some believe that the statues have a spiritual meaning, and this is called the “mana.”  Some scientists believe that these statues were made for that purpose.

Disaster of Easter Island

In the 1800s, Easter Island faced a disease that was carried in by European colonists.  When this happened, it caused many animals, sheep and rats to get diseases.  This caused the island to lose a lot of its flora that was originally on the island.

People of Easter Island also faced other disasters such as raids, famine or loss of food, civil war, and even a loss of their forest.

Some Myths About Easter Island

There are different myths that surround the idea of Easter Island such as:

  • That a cult called “Tangata Manu” was popular until 1860.
  • That there is a ghost on the island named “Moa-kava-kava” and it is said to look like a man from the Hanau epe tribe which means that he has long ears.
  • That there is a guardian of the caves called “Aku-aku” which is from a sacred family.
  • That they serve a god called “Makemake” which is an important god to the Easter Islands.

Weather of the Easter Islands

Easter Island is considered a subtropical place.  This means that the temperatures are usually hot or mild and that they hardly get any cold weather.

The hottest times are in February and the coolest times are in August.

The island has the most rain in April but the island has rained all year.

Easter Island Facts for Kids:

  • The largest statue of moai is called Paro.
  • Paro weights 82 tons and is over 30 feet tall.
  • Most of the statues are around 13 feet tall.
  • There are stones that the moai sit on and these are called Ahu.
  • There are over 310 Ahu that are seen on Easter Island.
  • 125 of the Ahu have a statue on them.
  • The largest Ahu is called Ahu Tongariki and is 720 feet wide and has the tallest moai on it.
  • In 2012, more than 5,000 people lived on Easter Island.
  • At least 60% of the people that live on the island now are descendants of the Rapa Nui people.
  • The closest island to Easter Island is Pitcairn Island.
  • The capital city of Easter Island is called Hanga Roa.

What Did You Learn?

  • What are the Easter Islands?  The Easter Islands is an island that is part of the Polynesian Islands.
  • Why is Easter Island popular?  Easter Island is popular because people from all over the world go there to see the giant carved statues that are found all over the island.
  • Who were the people that carved the statues?  The people that carved the statues were the Rapa Nui people who lived on the island many, many years ago.
  • What is another name for the statues of Easter Island?  Some people call the statues “heads” but another name for the statues is moai.
  • Why are the moai statues so mysterious?  The moai statues are mysterious because they are very large, and they are moved all over the island.  No one is really sure how they got where they are.