Atacama Desert

19 Apr, 2009

The Atacama Desert – the Driest Desert in South America

Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert is one of the most known deserts in South America. It is located west of the Andes and is considered to be the driest plateau in the world. It stretches almost six hundred miles from Peru into Chile and is situated at an elevation of 2000m.

The lifeless and rainless plain features mineral debris and elements from the Andes and the surrounding grounds. It is the only desert in the earth where you cannot see any plant or cactus, no signs of life what so ever. Lizards and iguanas that usually live in desert habitats do not exist there, as the desert is completely dry. Even cactuses need some amount of moist, but even this tiny little requirement doesn’t exist there. Nothing can rot without moisture. In fact the Atacama Desert is considered by experts to be completely sterile, almost fifty times drier than the famous Death Valley in California.

According to studies and experiments that took place there, there were no rainfalls in the area for more than 400 years, from 1570 to 1971, the longest period ever recorded in late historical years. The average rainfall in the area of the Atacama Desert is not more than 1mm per year, while some rain stations have never seen rain since 1975.

What is amazing is that the area features some really high mountains, reaching 6900m. Due to the dry climate though, they do not feature any glaciers at all. Visitors are usually amazed by the fact that more than a million people live within the limits of the Atacama Desert today. They have created small settlements and cities, while some of them managed to establish small fishing villages on the pacific coast. It is also impressive that there are farmers, who are dedicated workers of the land and produce veggies and fruits using drip irrigation systems.

Atacama Desert

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