Atacama Desert, Chile Travel Guide

The Atacama Desert ( Desierto de Atacama) is a plateau in South America, covering a 1,000-kilometre (600 mi) strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is the driest non-polar desert in the world. According to estimates the Atacama Desert proper occupies 105,000 square kilometres (41,000 sq mi), but its size rises to 128,000 square kilometres (49,000 sq mi) when the barren lower slopes of the Andes are included. Most of the desert is composed of stony terrain, salt lakes (salares), sand, and felsic lava that flows towards the Andes.