Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle. It is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. Today the island has about 5,800 residents, of whom some 60 percent are descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.
Polynesian people most likely settled on Easter Island sometime between 700 to 1100 CE, and created a thriving and industrious culture as evidenced by the island’s numerous enormous stone moai and other artifacts. However, human activity, the introduction of the Polynesian rat and overpopulation led to gradual deforestation and extinction of natural resources which severely weakened the Rapa Nui civilization. By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island’s population had dropped to 2,000–3,000 from an estimated high of approximately 15,000 just a century earlier. European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.
In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.