The Atacama Desert in Chile is a rainless plateau that covers almost a 600 mile location. Below we reveal 7 interesting facts about Atacama Desert in Chile, South America.
1. Driest desert in the world – According to NASA reports, the Atacama desert in Chile is the driest desert in the world. National Geographic has also verified that the Atacama is the driest desert.
2. 50 times drier than Death Valley – The Atacama Desert in Chile is over 50 time’s drier that Death Valley in California. The desert covers over 40,600 square miles and is mostly comprised of salt basins, lava flows, and sand.
3. Virtually rainless – The average rain fall in the region is just one millimeter per year. Some weather stations in the desert have never reported any rainfall. The weather is so arid that even the mountain peaks that reach over 6,500 meters have no glaciers.
4. Sterile soil – The soil is sterile because it is blocked from receiving moisture on both sides because of the Andes Mountains and the Chilean Coast Range.
5. World’s largest supply of Sodium Nitrate – Another interesting fact about the Atacama Desert in Chile is that is contains the world’s largest natural supply of sodium nitrate. Sodium nitrate was heavily mined in the 1940’s and the desert is full of abandoned mining towns.
6. Mars like soil – Soil samples on Mars are similar to samples taken from the Chile, South America desert. NASA uses the location to test Mars instruments for future missions to the red planet. The desert is also the site of the NASA Earth-Mars Cave Detection Program.
7. Border dispute – The Atacama Desert in Chile caused a huge land dispute between Chile and Bolivia in the 1800’s. the dispute ended with the transfer of the land to Chile.