Hanga Roa

Hanga Roa (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈaŋɡa ˈro.a]) is the main town, harbour and capital of Easter Island, a province of Chile.[1] 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.

Hanga Roa
Harbour in Hanga Roa
Easter Island, map showing Hanga Roa, Terevaka, Rano Kau, and Mataveri International Airport, as well as the main tourist attractions Orongo, Rano Raraku, Ahu Tongariki and Anakena.
Hanga Roa
Location in the Pacific Ocean
Coordinates: 27°08′00″S 109°25′00″W
Country Chile
Region Valparaíso
Province Isla de Pascua
Commune Isla de Pascua
Founded9 September 1888


Hanga Roa in the native Rapa Nui language means "wide bay" or "long bay".[2]

Upon Chile's claim of the island, the Rapanui were gathered in Hanga Roa, and the rest of the land was leased to a sheep farm.[3] For much of the twentieth century, the rest of the island was leased to the Compañía Explotadora de la Isla de Pascua (CEDIP) (a subsidiary of Williamson-Balfour Company) and closed to the Rapanui.

Some disagreements between the government of Chile and the Rapanui has led the locals with ancestral roots to "take over" many hotels in the city. For the locals, it is a way to draw the line between the Chilean government's policy-making in the island, and the Rapanui's ancestral rights on their land.[3] In 2011, the Schiess family, owner of the Hanga Roa Hotel, donated back the land of the hotel to the Rapanui, but retained a 30-year management lease of the hotel.[4] A week before, the Schiess family had personally shipped a special force squad from the Carabineros de Chile to remove the locals who squatted the hotel.[5] A prior police intervention in August 2010 had led to 25 Rapanui protesters being wounded.[6]


The island's main avenue, Avenida Atamu Tekena (formerly Avenida Policarpo Toro), is the heart of the town. Many hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and pharmacies 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.[7] The island's museum, and also the Roman Catholic "Holy Cross 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 automated teller machines (ATM) have appeared in recent years.


In 1914, the population of Hanga Roa was just 250 and the rest of the island was inhabited by large populations of sheep.

It is estimated that 90% of the island's population live in Hanga Roa.[8]



The town has a number of hotels and guesthouses which cater for tourists who come to see the island's World Heritage Sites, in particular the famous moai statues. Hanga Roa and the surrounding area have a number of impressive moai, but there are larger ones elsewhere on the island. The actual hotel capacity is about 600 beds, ranging from hostels to luxury hotels.

The Ahu Tahai archaeological complex is within a walking distance from the city's center.[8] Every year, the city is home to the farandula cultural festival, a months-long event when the locals sculpt giant wooden statues. The celebration includes an habit where people get nude and bath in clay that covers their bodies.[9][10]

Other activities

In addition to tourism, other businesses in Hanga Roa include fishing, farming and administration. Several Chilean government departments including the Chilean Navy maintain a presence on the island.

The harbour has a shipping service to Valparaíso, Chile. In April 2018, the freighter Lago Icalma parked in the port of Hanga Roa was struck by a barge. A fuel tank was ruptured, leaking diesel fuel in the waters of the port. The surrounding beaches were also blackened by the spread of the black liquid.[11]


The island's only airport, Mataveri International Airport, is served by LATAM Airlines, Chile's national carrier, which offers direct 5-hour flights from Santiago and weekly flights from Papeete. It is currently the only commercial carrier that regularly serves the island.[8]


Hanga Roa has a multi-use stadium, the Estadio de Hanga Roa, which is the home ground of the CF Rapa Nui, the football team representing the Easter Island.

Access to food

The regular consumers brands sold in grocery stores are expensive due to the costly trip required to import those products. Locals informally sell fish, meat and vegetables. The tuna empanada is the city's favorite snack.[8]

See also


  1. Hanga Roa on mapcarta.com
  2. Hanga Roa, Imagina
  3. Annie Murphy, For Chile, Colossal Trouble On Easter Island, Npr.org, 9 September 2010 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  4. (in Spanish) Héctor Aravena, Familia Schiess decide donar terrenos de Hotel Hanga Roa a Isla de Pascua, Emol.com, 18 February 2011 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  5. (in Spanish) Desalojan a pascuenses de hotel Hanga Roa, Elmostrador.cl, 6 February 2011 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  6. Easter Islanders' battle for their ancestral land ends in bloodshed, France24.com, 12 August 2010 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  7. Steven R. Fischer: The island at the end of the world. Reaktion Books, 2005, page 248. ISBN 1-86189-282-9
  8. Samai Haider, Hanga Roa - Launching Pad for Visiting the Moai, Thedailystar.net, 17 August 2018 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  9. (in French) Mike Leyral, Farandula: le carnaval de l'Île de Pâques ou l'exubérance des corps, Lepoint.fr, 19 February 2015 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  10. GALLERY: Easter Island's Carnival magic seduces locals, tourists, Enca.com, 21 February 2015 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
  11. Photos: Fuel Spill at Easter Island's Main Harbor, Maritime-executive.com, 26 April 2018 (accessed on 31 May 2019)
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