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Just four years later, the British navigator Sir James Cook arrived to find Easter Island’s population decimated by what seemed to have been a civil war, with only 600 to 700 men and fewer than 30 women remaining.
A French navigator, Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse, found 2,000 people on the island when he arrived in 1786.
A major slave raid from Peru in 1862, followed by epidemics of smallpox, reduced the population to only 111 people by 1877.
By that time, Catholic missionaries had settled on Easter Island and begun to convert the population to Christianity, a process that was completed by the late 19th century.
It is now home to a mixed population, mostly of Polynesian ancestry and made up of the descendants of the Long-Ears and Short-Ears.
Spanish is generally spoken, and the island has developed an economy largely based on tourism.
In 1888, Chile annexed Easter Island, leasing much of the land for sheep raising.
The Chilean government appointed a civilian governor for Easter Island in 1965, and the island’s residents became full Chilean citizens.
During the middle period, ahus also contained burial chambers, and the images portrayed by moai are thought to have represented important figures that were deified after death.
Averaging 13 feet (4 meters) high, with a weight of 13 tons, these enormous stone busts–known as moai–were carved out of tuff (the light, porous rock formed by consolidated volcanic ash) and placed atop ceremonial stone platforms called ahus.
It is still unknown precisely why these statues were constructed in such numbers and on such a scale, or how they were moved around the island.
The Easter bunny is bringing Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez's kids together.
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