Chile... One of the corners of the world
Main Easter Island North Center South

The North:
The far north (Norte Grande) is extremely arid. It contains the Atacama Desert one MNChico.jpgof the driest areas in the world; in certain sections, this desert does not register any rainfall at all. Average monthly temperatures range at sea level between about 20.5 °C during the summer and about 14 °C during the winter. Most of the population lives in the coastal area, where the temperatures are more moderate and the humidity higher. Contrary to the image of monochrome barrenness that most people associate with deserts, the landscape is spectacular, with its crisscrossing hills and mountains of all shapes and sizes, each with a unique hue depending on its mineral composition, its distance from the observer, and the time of day. Beyond the coastal bluffs, there is an area of rolling hills that encompasses the driest desert land; this area ends to the east with the Andes towering over it. The edges of the desert in some sections have subterranean aquifers that have permitted the development of forests made up mainly of tamarugos, spiny trees native to the area that grow to a height of about twenty-five meters. Most of those forests were cut down to fuel the fires of the many foundries established since colonial times to exploit the abundant deposits of copper, silver, and nitrate found in the area. The result was the creation of even drier surface conditions. During the summer the area receives considerable rainfall in what is commonly known as the Bolivian winter forming shallow lakes of mostly saline waters that are home to a number of bird species, including the Chilean Flamingo. The water rights for one of the rivers, the Lauca River remain a source of dispute between Chile and Bolivia. These narrow rivers have carved fertile valleys in which exuberant vegetation creates a stark contrast to the bone-dry hills. In such areas, roads usually are built halfway up the arid elevations in order to maximize the intensive agricultural use of the irrigated land. They offer spectacular panoramic vistas, along with the harrowing experience of driving along the edges of cliffs. In the far north, the kinds of fruits that grow well in the arid tropics thrive, and all kinds of vegetables can be grown year-round. However, the region's main economic foundation is its great mineral wealth. For instance, Chuquicamata the world's largest open-pit copper mine, is located in the far north. Since the early 1970s, the fishing industry has also developed enormously in the main ports of the area, most notably Iquique  The near north (Norte Chico) extends from the to about 32° south latitude, or just north of Santiago It is a semiarid region whose central area receives an average of about twenty-five millimeters of rain during each of the four winter months, with trace amounts the rest of the year. The temperatures are moderate, with an average of 18.5 °C during the summer and about 12 °C during the winter at sea level. The winter rains and the melting of the snow that accumulates on the Andes produce rivers whose flow varies with the seasons, but which carry water year round. Their deep transverse valleys provide broad areas for cattle raising and, most important, fruit growing, an activity that has developed greatly since the mid-1970s. Nearly all Chilean pisco is produced in the near north.


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