the Atacama is considered as the driest desert of the earth. It lies in South America in the north of Chile and borders in the west on the Pacific, in the north on Peru and in the east on Bolivia and Argentina. The Región deAtacama forms the region III within Chile. It is relatively thinly populated.
The Atacama lies in the rain shade of the Anden; any east winds are not drying and bring precipitation. Close one of the coast prevents a cold Meeresströmung, the Humboldtstrom,the development of rain clouds, so that, differently than further north or south, no upward gradient rain falls. The cold sea water causes however that the Atacama is cool and often fog prevails in particular near the coast, why the Atacama belongs also to the nebula deserts.By the effects of the climatic phenomenon El Niño, which accompanies with the staying of the Humboldtstromes, it comes relatively regularly in the distance from approximately 6-10 years to violent precipitation. These lead then for a short period to the Erblühen of the desert.
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the Atacama was already early settled despite its water poverty. The peoples of the Atacameños, the Aymara, the Chinchorros and the Diaguitas lived around the meager oases. The oldest mummies of the world belongto the Chinchorro culture; it concerns mummified babies, who were bestattet more than 7,000 years ago.
Afterwards the area became part of the Inkareiches. In the year 1536 Konquistador Diego de Almagro reached as the first of the area around Copiapó.To the decay of the Inka rule the desert came under Spanish rule. The independence efforts of the South American states let the Atacama at Bolivia fall.
After the saltpeter war led around the rich nitrate occurrences of the desert (1879 - 1884), which Chile with British encouragement and assistance against Peru and Bolivia for itself decided, could Chile be Territory at expense of Peru and Bolivia substantially northward extend. Up to then the today's Región de Atacama was the northernmost province of Chile. The loss of the entrance to the Pacific ocean places until today a substantial diplomatic point of conflict between Chile and Bolivia.
due to the extremely dry desert climate several large observatories on the mountains in the desert were established. And Campanas read the observatories La Sillalie approximately 50 km south of Vallenar. On the mountain Cerro Paranal - 120 km south the port Antofagasta - established the European south observatory the Very Large Telescope. Further telescopes are on the Chajnantor - Hochebene lying AtacamaLarge millimeters array and the Atacama Pathfinder experiment.
Interesting also the Atrapanieblas , nets, is in which coastal fog at mountain-slopes is caught in the Atacama, thereby toWater winning serves. In Chile for this several pilot projects run.