Isolation vs. Connectivity: Distance is not everything. A case study from Rapa Nui.

Authors: Jesse Tenenbaum*, University of Denver
Topics: Latin America, Tourism Geography, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Isolation, Connectivity, Rapa Nui, Chile, Tourism
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 52
Presentation File: Download



Since tourism began on Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island/Isla de Pascua) in 1967, the most isolated inhabited island on the planet in terms of distance has become significantly more connected with the outside world. Although tourists have been arriving on the island since 1967, the last two decades especially have seen great changes in island residents’ demographics and lifestyles. In this 2018 study, interviewed islanders said that they have witnessed and experienced notable changes with regard to their connectivity with the outside world, largely due to the booming tourism industry, as well as the Chilean government actively managing the island’s resources and activities. Despite being well over one thousand miles from the nearest other inhabited island and over two thousand miles from the nearest continental point, Rapa Nui is greatly connected to the global economy with daily flights to/from Santiago de Chile, regular boat arrivals, and telephone and internet services. Residents of the island expressed not feeling isolated from the world because of their access to jet travel and technology, in spite of the physical distances between them and other population centers.

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