European diseases and Peruvian slave raiding in the 1860s further reduced the Rapa Nui population, to a low of only 111 inhabitants in 1877.

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 just in central Chile, 3,512 kilometres (2,182 mi) away.

) is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle.

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The phrase appears to have been used in the same sense as the designation of "Land's End" at the tip of Cornwall.

He was unable to elicit a Polynesian name for the island itself, and concluded that there may not have been one.

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".

This was apparently its actual meaning: French ethnologist Alphonse Pinart gave it the actual translation "the Navel of the World".

The name "Easter Island" was given by the island's first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who encountered it on Easter Sunday (5 April) in 1722, while searching for Davis or David's island.

Roggeveen named it Paasch-Eyland (18th-century Dutch for "Easter Island").

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.

The most visible element in the culture was the production of massive statues called moai that some believe represented deified ancestors.

According to National Geographic, "Most scholars suspect that the moai were created to honor ancestors, chiefs, or other important personages, However, no written and little oral history exists on the island, so it’s impossible to be certain." It was believed that the living had a symbiotic relationship with the dead in which the dead provided everything that the living needed (health, fertility of land and animals, fortune etc.) and the living, through offerings, provided the dead with a better place in the spirit world.

Rectifications in radiocarbon dating have changed almost all of the previously posited early settlement dates in Polynesia.