ATACAMA DESERT: The driest place there is...
There is a town called Calama in the desert which is complete with motels, restaurants and shops, but it is definitely not the norm. For the most part, Atacama is a pretty lonely place. Humans have lived in the Atacama for many thousands of years, based on the cultural relics and artifacts that archeaologists have found. The South American Indians who have set up housekeeping in the desert over the millenia have left relics from their culture and even themselves. Because the Atacama is so bone-dry the bodies of the buried indians have dried perfectly preserved turning them into mummies. Some of the oldest mummies found anywhere on earth have come from the Atacama Desert and have been dated to be 9,000 years old!
What Causes Deserts?
One reason is that the high atmospheric pressure in this region over the Andes can cause dry, cold air from the upper altitudes to compress and come down to earth. This dry air has almost no water vapor so it can be easily heated by the sun, causing high ground temperatures with very low humidity.