Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

The Land of the World’s Driest Desert

Although one of the most arid places on earth, Chile’s Far North has been inhabited by humans for around 11,000 years. Around 8000 years ago, Chinchorro fishermen plied coastal waters, extracting resources, while highland hunters did the same inland. Some of these nomadic groups later settled down to farm the region’s valleys and oases. They expanded their reach with llama caravans, increasing their contact with Altiplano societies. The population spiked around A.D. 1000, leading to conflicts among communities, which helped the Inca to conquer the territory in the 16th century. The Aymara, Quechua and Atacameño peoples who live in the region today have inherited that legacy.

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