Hanga Roa is the main town, harbour and capital of the Chilean province of Easter Island. It is located in the southern part of the island's west coast, in the lowlands between the extinct volcanoes of Terevaka and Rano Kau.
The population of 3,304 (2002 census), comprises 87 percent of the total population of the island. For much of the twentieth century the rest of the island was leased to the Williamson-Balfour Company and closed to the Rapanui; in 1914, the population of Hanga Roa was just 250 and the rest of the island was inhabited by little more than sheep.
Today the main avenue, Avenida Atamu Tekena (formerly Avenida Policarpo Toro), is the heart of the town. Many stores, hotels, restaurants, and the island's only supermarket and pharmacy are found alongside this road. In 1998 the road was renamed after nineteenth century Rapanui hero Atamu Te Kena, it had previously been named after Captain Policarpo Toro, the Chilean Naval officer who annexed Easter Island to Chile in 1888. The island's museum and also the Roman Catholic church, are located in the center of town. With the advent of the internet and the expansion of communication services by the Chilean government, many internet cafes and even an automated teller machine (ATM) have appeared in recent years.
The town has a number of hotels and guest houses which cater for tourists who come to see the islands world heritage sites, and in particular the famous Moai (statues). Hanga Roa and its immediate environs have a number of impressive Moai, but there are larger ones elsewhere on the island.
As well as tourism, other activities in Hanga Roa include fishing, farming and administration (several Chilean government departments including the Chilean Navy maintain establishments on this, Chile's most westerly island).
Hanga Roa's airport, Mataveri International Airport, is served by LAN Airlines, Chile's national carrier. LAN offers direct flights to Santiago and Papeete, Tahiti, from Easter Island and is the only commercial carrier that regularly flies to the island.
- ↑ Steven R Fischer The island at the end of the world. Reaktion Books 2005 ISBN1 86189 282 9 page 248
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