More than 1,000 years ago, some of history’s most truly intrepid travelers sailed east on Polynesian outriggers to the Pacific’s most remote outpost, where their descendants carved colossal moai from volcanic quarries, transported them over rugged terrain without the wheel and without damage, and hoisted them onto massive platforms known as ahu.
It’s still possible to reach Easter Island by boat—freighter, anyway—but almost everyone nowadays prefers the five-hour flight from Santiago  in order to spend more time wandering among the world-famous monuments.
The world’s most isolated inhabited place—the next closest settlement is more than 1,900 kilometers to the west—Rapa Nui acquired its English name indirectly through Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen, the first European to see the island. Sighting land on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1772, he named it for the date after the custom of his era, and his designation spread to every European language.
Chileans commonly refer to the island as Isla de Pascua, but there is a broad consensus for using indigenous Polynesian terminology whenever possible with regard to territory, ethnology, and linguistics. Within this consensus, though, there are conflicting opinions about usage of the terms “Rapa Nui,” which some consider a European invention, and “Rapanui,” which is closer to other Polynesian languages. For our purposes, we use “Rapa Nui” to describe the territory and “Rapanui” for the islanders and their language.