About the Atacama Desert
The Atacama desert is found in South America
. Considered to be one of the driest deserts in the world, the Atacama is a harsh environment where only a few specially adapted species of plants and animals are able to survive. Even so, there are a few human populations that inhabit the Atacama, where the main industry revolves around mineral extraction.
The Atacama desert is located along the northwest coast of Chile.
The Atacama desert extends to a length of almost 1,600 km, is 180 km at its widest and covers a total of 105,200 square kilometers.
The average daily temperature in the desert ranges from 0 degrees C to 25 degrees C. Most precipitation occurs as fog. Rain is uncommon; snow sometimes occurs in the higher elevations.
Few humans populate the Atacama desert. Three settlements include the port towns of Iquique, Caldera and Antofagasta.
The main industry in the region is mineral extraction, including copper and salts. There is some worry that road construction because of the mining industry may harm the natural desert ecosystem.
Flora and Fauna
There is a number of different cacti species that inhabit the Atacama. Because of the harsh desert conditions, there are not many animals that live here. Those that can be found in some areas of the desert include species of scorpions, lizards and birds.
A writer and editor based in southeastern Wyoming, Susan Berg has over ten years of experience in the field. Berg earned a Master of Arts degree in journalism from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Dayton. Her work has been published in the "Dayton Daily News" and online at websites including BiologyBiozine.com, Wcities.com, Trails.com, Travels.com and eHow.com.