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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 August, 2005, 00:51 GMT 01:51 UK
Chile mulls Easter Island limits
By Clinton Porteous
BBC News, Santiago

Moai on Easter Island
The new law aims to better preserve the island's culture
The Chilean government is considering limiting migration to the world-famous archaeological site of Easter Island.

The move is a bid to stop the indigenous population from being overrun by people from the mainland.

Easter Island has been part of Chile since 1888 and is best known for its giant carved stone statues.

The initiative is part of a broader proposal for a new law to administer the island. It has received a mixed response from islanders.

The detailed plan includes greater local decision-making, better transport and a new commission to try and preserve the local culture.

Residency rules

The new law is expected to be unveiled in a couple of months.

The plan does not discuss autonomy for the island, and some indigenous people have criticised it for not going far enough.

But there is widespread local support for a proposal to limit migration from the mainland - by introducing rules of residency.

Some 4,000 people live on Easter Island and about 1,800 of them are part of the Rapa Nui community with links to the original inhabitants.

The rest of the population is from mainland Chile, or other countries.

Easter Island is 3,700km (2,300 miles) from the coast of mainland Chile and is one of the most isolated places in the world.

Currently any Chilean can live on Easter Island, although they cannot buy land.


Many Rapa Nui people feel they are being overrun, and losing their culture, especially their language.

Erity Teave, part of a group pushing for full autonomy for the island, told the BBC that the limit on migration was the only major change in the package.

But Nicholas Haoa, who believes the island must retain economic links with Chile to survive, was more positive.

He said the Chilean government had finally listened to the people.

Country profile: Chile
16 Jun 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Chile
14 Jul 05 |  Country profiles



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