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Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, 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.
Polynesian people most likely settled on Easter Island sometime between 7 AD and created a thriving and industrious culture as evidenced by the island's numerous enormous stone moai and other artifacts.
However, there are two words pronounced pito in Rapa Nui, one meaning 'end' and one 'navel', and the phrase can thus also mean "the Navel of the World".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.Archaeological and paleobotanical evidence also point to this area as the early center of habitation.Anthropometrical, skeletal, and linguistic evidence show the Easter Islanders to be close relatives of the Mangarevans.