On this day in 1722—which was Easter Sunday—the little-known Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen became the first European to visit Rapa Nui, or Easter Island.
Jacob Roggeveen was a Dutch explorer who was sent to find Terra Australis, but instead came across Easter Island (called Easter Island because he landed there on Easter Day). Jacob Roggeveen also encountered Bora Bora and Maupiti of the Society Islands and Samoa.
He planned the expedition along with his brother Jan Roggeveen, who stayed in the Netherlands.
He had, of course, been beaten to the discovery of the island by the Polynesians, surely the most impressive open ocean explorers in history. Although no one is sure of exactly when the Polynesians arrived.
On Rapa Nui, Roggeveen encountered the now famous moai statues. Almost a thousand of these sculptural monoliths stood along the coastline, and Roggeveen would have arrived to a vision of towering moai turned…
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