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Does Anyone Live in the Driest Place on Earth?

Known as the driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert extends for about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in northern Chile. Moisture comes from fog, such as the dense, abundant fog known as camanchaca, or maybe a shower every few decades, but the rain gauge in Calama, Chile has never measured a drop of precipitation. And yet, more than a million people live in the Atacama, sustained by aqueducts and ingenuity.

The lack of rain means that astronomers in observatories on the Atacama's coastal range can survey the heavens through crystal clear skies. Determined farmers in the north cultivate olives, tomatoes and cucumbers with drip-irrigation. In the altiplano, other hearty folk herd llamas and alpacas and grow crops with water from snowmelt streams.

Survival in the driest place on Earth:

  • The area's frequent fog nourishes plant communities called lomas. These islands of vegetation range from cactuses to ferns.

  • The Atacama is a high and cold desert, with elevations over 8,000 feet (2,438 m). In the harshest areas, nothing grows and nothing can survive.

  • In the 19th century, Chile's leading export was nitrate from Atacama Desert mines. Today, the Atacama yields copper, Chile's current leading export.

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More Info: National Geographic

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anon996006
Post 1

Amazing. Thank you.

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