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Easter Island, Chile

The southeastern-most point in the Polynesian Triangle, tiny Easter Island in the South Pacific is one of the most remote places on earth. Even more oddly, it belongs to Chile, which lies 3,700 miles away over the eastern horizon. In fact, a large slice of the island is Chile’s Rapa Nui National Park, preserving the sculptural heritage of the indigenous Rapa Nui people, whose ancestors carved the huge human effigies called moai that give the island its renown and earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status. These stylized sculptures stand on the slopes of the island, gazing implacably out to sea, often on stone platforms called ahu. They were apparently carved between the 13th and 16th centuries, for reasons that are debated. But the enigmatic effigies, the dramatic volcanic landscape, the Rapa Nui people themselves and the sheer isolation of the island combine to draw visitors from every corner of the globe to this speck in the world’s largest ocean.