Where is Easter Island?

Where is Easter Island location Rapa Nui

Although most people link the famous giant stone statues with Rapa Nui, many ignore where it is located. We will try to answer the most frequently asked questions about where is Easter Island located.

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Where is Easter Island?

where is Easter Island location in the Polynesian triangle

Easter Island location in the Polynesian triangle

Let’s change the perspective for a moment. If we rotate the Earth globe of its usual position, that in which the Atlantic Ocean always appears as a protagonist among the great continental masses, and we stop it in the position where land is barely seen, then the Pacific Ocean becomes protagonist and now one understands because the Earth is called Blue Planet. There, in the middle of that immense Pacific Ocean that occupies almost the entire surface, a small point appears almost imperceptible on the map. We have found the small and remote island of Rapa Nui.

Easter Island location and coordinates

Easter Island is located at the eastern vertex of the so-called Polynesian Triangle, in the South Pacific Ocean, at Latitude 27° 9′ 10” South, and Longitude 109° 27′ 17” West. This great geographical triangle, which covers about thirty million kilometers, has its northern vertex in Hawaii, includes the archipelagos of Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, French Polynesia among others and closes with New Zealand at the southwest corner.

All the people that inhabit the nearly thousand islands that form Polynesia share the same history that goes back to the Lapita culture, which emerged almost four thousand years ago. Their languages ​​have their origin in a single common trunk, the physical characteristics of their inhabitants are very homogeneous and the ancient beliefs and traditions are closely related.

Rapa Nui represents the last end of the vast Polynesian territory before encountering the American continent.

What country does Easter Island belong to?

Easter Island belongs to Chile since in 1888 there was annexation by the South American country, joining since then the so-called Insular Chile.

The remote location of Easter Island and its equidistance from various geographical areas of the planet give it a strategic position within the immense oceanic area of ​​the South Pacific.

More information about the history of Easter Island

Currently this territory, also known as Islas Esporáficas (Sporadic Islands), is divided into two. The so-called Chile insular continental (Continental insular Chile), formed by the Juan Fernández archipelago and the Desventuradas islands in which the islands of San Ambrosio and San Félix are included. And the Chile insular oceánico (Oceanic insular Chile), formed by Salas y Gómez Island and Easter Island.

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What region does Easter Island belong to?

Easter Island belongs administratively to the Region of Valparaíso or V Region of Chile, as well as the rest of the islands of the so-called insular Chile. Easter Island, together with the Salas and Gómez island, make up the commune of Easter Island, being the only commune that makes up the province of Easter Island. In turn, the only existing town in Rapa Nui is Hanga Roa, the capital of Easter Island.

What continent is Easter Island in?

Many wonder what continent Easter Island belongs to. And it is normal that the doubt arises if we consider that Chile is a tricontinental country, from a geopolitical point of view, since its territories are distributed in South America, Antarctica and Oceania.

Because Rapa Nui, the westernmost territory of Chile, is located in Polynesia, it would be best to answer that geographically Easter Island is part of the continent of Oceania although politically it belongs to South America.

Rapa Nui, a small and remote universe

Sunset over the moai statues of the Ahu Vai Uri in Tahai with the distant horizon in the background where is Easter Island

Sunset over the moai statues of the Ahu Vai Uri in Tahai with the distant horizon in the background

Rapa Nui is a small universe lost in the ocean. And it is that when we try to find this tiny piece of land on the map, it is easier to find a needle in a haystack. That is why it may seem paradoxical that one of the names with which the ancient inhabitants referred to their island was that of Te Pito o Te Henua, which in the Rapanui language means “the navel of the world”.

However, this name makes sense for the people that for a long time considered this small island as its only world, since it ignored what there was beyond the horizon. As Heyerdahl says in his book Aku Aku: “The closest mainland that its inhabitants can see is in the sky and consists of the moon and planets”.

The most remote island in the world?

Possibly no geographic space so small has aroused as much interest as Rapa Nui. And it is that Easter Island has traditionally been considered as the most isolated permanently inhabited island on the planet (see note). Its extreme isolation helps to intensify the halo of mystery that surrounds it. And even today, in the 21st century, it is difficult to understand how the ancient inhabitants of this remote island managed to create a unique culture capable, not only of surviving and prospering, but of carving, transporting and raising the colossal moai statues that made Easter Island famous.

Note According to the Guinness World Records, the small archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, located in the middle of the South Atlantic at 2,437 km from Santa Elena Island, holds the honor of being the most remote inhabited island territory on the planet. Its small population that does not exceed 300 people originated in the early nineteenth century to avoid a possible rescue of Napoleon by the French. At the moment it is still very inaccessible since its difficult orography avoids the construction of an airport.

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Islands near Easter Island

The piece of land closest to Easter Island is the small and uninhabited islet of Salas and Gómez, located 415 km to the East, which is a natural refuge for seabirds. To find the inhabited land closest to Easter Island, you have to go 2,080 km to the Northwest where Pitcairn Island is located. This British overseas territory is known worldwide for being the place where the rebel crew that starred in the famous mutiny on the Bounty was installed, and whose descendants still reside there.

Both Rapa Nui and Salas and Gómez are part of one of the two underwater volcanic chains built on the Nazca Plate, known as Dorsal de Salas and Gómez. In fact, Rapa Nui is actually a submerged volcanic mountain that reaches a height of 3,000 meters from the sea base. Modern plate tectonics theories spoil the fanciful ideas that Easter Island may have belonged to a mythical lost continent, known as Mú, located in the Pacific Ocean.

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Distances to Easter Island

Wind Rose in Rapa Nui indicating the distances to several cities in the world where is Easter Island

Wind Rose in Rapa Nui indicating the distances to several cities in the world

Below we answer the most frequently asked questions about the distances between Easter Island and other points of interest.

Distance from Chile to Easter Island

It depends on which point of Chile we choose to calculate the distance to Easter Island. The closest point on the American continent and from Chile to Rapa Nui is Punta Lavapié, located 3,522 km away on the Arauco peninsula, in the Bio Bio region.

Distance from Santiago de Chile to Easter Island

The distance between Santiago de Chile and Easter Island is 3,760 km. Santiago is also the only point from which Easter Island can be reached by plane from the American continent.

Distance from Easter Island to Valparaíso

The distance between Rapa Nui and Valparaíso, capital of the region of the same name, is 3,670 km.

Distance from Easter Island to Tahiti

The distance between Easter Island and Tahiti is 4,231 km, specifically to the capital Papeete. Together with Santiago, this is the second point from which Easter Island can be reached by plane on a regular airline.

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