The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a 1,000 kilometer strip of land on the Pacific coast. It is on the west of the Andes mountains. The faulted coastal mountains (mostly 500 to 1000 meters high) are composed of limestone and sandstone. The Atacama Desert is considered to be one of the driest coastal deserts in the world. Vegetation must contend with an annual rainfall of 0.6 millimeters in Arica. The Atacama becomes slightly less arid as it moves southward.
The average monthly temperatures in Iquique range from 14.5 degrees celsius in September to 21 degrees celsius in March. Further limiting plant growth is the extremely low total organic carbon and nitrogen content of the soil. For example, total organic carbon levels are lower than those of the Sahara Desert and the Mojave Desert by huge amounts. This desert occurs in moderately cool to warm areas such as the Nearctic and Neotropical region.
The cool winters of coastal deserts are followed by moderately long and warm summers. The average summer temperature ranges from 13-24 degrees celsius and the average winter temperatures are 5 degrees or below. The maximum annual temperature is about 35 degrees celsius and the minimum is around -4 degrees celsius.
The species present in this region are Chinchillas, Gray Foxes, Llamas, Vallenar toad etc. Plants that exist is this desert has adapted to the dry and hot conditions by forming deep roots which spread wide under the ground. On the edges of the desert crops are cultivated along with vegetables. Some known plants that are present in the desert are Cacti, Tamaruga Tree and Lichens. According to research, Atacama’s age is considered to be between 20 and 40 million years old and people began living in it around 2000 BC. The people living in urban areas consider the desert to be a waste land.
The government had also declared to create a dumping ground for nuclear waste here. Many mining activities disturb the desert environment as