Easter Island

Easter Island (Rapa Nui: Rapa Nui; Spanish: Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania. The island is most famous for its nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues, called moai, which were created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.

Easter Island
Rapa Nui
Isla de Pascua
Special Territory, Province and Commune
Easter Island map showing Terevaka, Poike, Rano Kau, Motu Nui, Orongo, and Mataveri; major ahus are marked with moai
Easter Island
Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean
Coordinates: 27°7′S 109°22′W
ProvinceIsla de Pascua
CommuneIsla de Pascua
SeatHanga Roa
  BodyMunicipal council
  Provincial GovernorLaura Alarcón Rapu (IND)
  AlcaldePedro Edmunds Paoa (PRO)
  Total163.6 km2 (63.2 sq mi)
Highest elevation
507 m (1,663 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 (2017 census)
Time zoneUTC−6 (CLT)
  Summer (DST)UTC−5 (CLST)
Country Code+56
CurrencyPeso (CLP)
LanguageSpanish, Rapa Nui
Driving sideright
NGA UFI=-905269
Rapa Nui National Park
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Moai at Rano Raraku, Easter Island
CriteriaCultural: i, iii, v
Inscription1995 (19th Session)
Area6,666 ha

Experts disagree on when the island's Polynesian inhabitants first reached the island. While many in the research community cited evidence that they arrived around 800 CE, convincing data presented in a 2007 study suggested the time to be 1200 CE.[3][4] The inhabitants created a thriving and industrious culture, as evidenced by the island's numerous enormous stone moai and other artifacts. However, land clearing for cultivation and the introduction of the Polynesian rat led to gradual deforestation.[3] By the time of European arrival in 1722, the island's population was estimated to be 2,000 to 3,000. European diseases, Peruvian slave raiding expeditions in the 1860s, and emigration to other islands such as Tahiti further depleted the population, reducing it to a low of 111 native inhabitants in 1877.[5]

Chile annexed Easter Island in 1888. In 1966, the Rapa Nui were granted Chilean citizenship. In 2007 the island gained the constitutional status of "special territory" (Spanish: territorio especial). Administratively, it belongs to the Valparaíso Region, constituting a single commune of the Province Isla de Pascua.[6] The 2017 Chilean census registered 7,750 people on the island, of whom 3,512 (45%) considered themselves Rapa Nui.[7]

Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world.[8] The nearest inhabited land (around 50 residents in 2013) is Pitcairn Island, 2,075 kilometres (1,289 mi) away;[9] the nearest town with a population over 500 is Rikitea, on the island of Mangareva, 2,606 km (1,619 mi) away; the nearest continental point lies in central Chile, 3,512 km (2,182 mi) away.