Atatcama Desert, a desert of northern Chile. From the Chile-Peru border it stretches southward for nearly 600 miles (970 km) to central Atacama province. It is the Chilean part of the great South American desert that stretches for about 1,700 miles (2,700 km) along the Pacific coast. The desert lies between the Andes on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west at about 2,000 feet (600 m) above sea level; its greatest width is about 100 miles (160 km). It is a desolate wasteland almost devoid of vegetation. The mean annual precipitation in most places is less than one inch (25 mm), and in some areas rain has never been known to fall.
The Atacama Desert is rich in minerals, especially sodium nitrate and copper ore. Antofagasta is the region's largest city.