The original report was published in the USA Today on Friday, September 16, 2011
Phenomenal and unique Rapa Nui National Park
Famous for its giant stone statues, known as moai, and reputedly one of the most isolated inhabited places on Earth, Rapa Nui – the indigenous name for Easter Island – was also Chile’s first inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, being admitted in 1995.
Settled around A.D. 300 by Polynesians who brought with them a Stone Age culture, the island’s history embodies fascinating social and cultural phenomena that have intrigued generations of historians and tourists.
A unique, imaginative society evolved, totally free from external influences, and from the 10th to the 16th century it created shrines and erected the famous moais. Over the centuries, these stone figures evolved in style, form and size.
As well as reflecting the effect of European arrivals, Rapa Nui also shows the consequences of over-population and environmental deterioration. Today, the population is around 2,000 people, about one third of whom are from Chile and the remainder being descendants of the original Polynesian settlers.
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