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The eastern portion of the island belonged to the 'Otu 'Itu.

Similar sacred zones with statuary (marae and ahu) in East Polynesia lends support to this interaction from the 12th to the 15th centuries.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".Another name, Mata ki te rangi, means "Eyes looking to the sky".Oral tradition states the island was first settled by a two-canoe expedition, originating from Marae Renga (or Marae Toe Hau), and led by the chief Hotu Matu'a and his captain Tu'u ko Iho.

The island was first scouted after Haumaka dreamed of such a far off country; Hotu deemed it a worthwhile place to flee from a neighboring chief, one to whom he had already lost three battles.

Easter Island is a special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888.

Administratively, it belongs to the Valparaíso Region, and, more specifically, it is the only commune of the Province Isla de Pascua.

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

Anthropometrical, skeletal, and linguistic evidence show the Easter Islanders to be close relatives of the Mangarevans.