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Easter Island Travel Guide

Caleta Hanga Roa
Looking across Caleta Hanga Roa toward Maunga Terevaka.

History of Easter Island

Rapa Nui Today

Until 2007 Easter Island was a part of the Fifth Region of Chile with Valparaíso (Chile) as capital. However the Chilean congress has passed a law which makes the island a "special territory" under the Minister of the Interior.

Policy decisions affecting the island's development have always been made by officials in faraway Chile and for years Rapanui leaders have been asking to have Easter Island made a separate region of Chile. They hope the new administrative setup will enhance local autonomy.

The president of Chile still nominates the governor; the mayor and council are elected locally. The people of Easter Island pay no taxes and all government services on the island are underwritten by Chile.

The story is told that during the annexation ceremony in 1888, King Atamu Tekena leaned forward and pulled out a handful of grass, which he gave to Captain Policarpo Toro with the words "this is for you." Then he picked up a handful of soil and put it in his pocket saying "this is for us." The Rapanui of today are becoming more assertive in reclaiming their rights and land.

Continue to   History: Easter Island Dateline   »