In August 1721, Jacob Roggeveen and his 223 men aboard three ships, the Arend, the Thienhoven and the Afrikaansche Galey, set course for the mythical “Southern continent”, Terra Australis. After passing the Falklands, Valdivia and the Juan Fernández Islands, they ended up near a lonely island on April 5, 1722. According to Roggeveen’s accounts, there was fertile land on Rapa Nui, as the natives called it, with banana, fig and sugarcane growing in abundance, but not a tall tree in sight, and with locals who, numbering 2-3 thousand in the Dutchman’s estimation, worshiped gigantic stone statues.
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