Atacama Desert, Southern Puna, and Southern Yungas

Map of the Month: Atacama Desert, Southern Puna, and Southern Yungas
Map boundaries: 20 to 30 South; 63 to 72 degrees West
Countries: Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile

Altitude changes in this area provide a diversity of tropical and temperate habitats, with arid areas the most common. In the north, the Atacama Desert, the world’s driest, is located just east of a Pacific coastal fog desert, which provides some moisture. Further east, elevations increase and the terrain grades into the Puna, a high-elevation desert with volcanoes and saline lakes, including the world’s largest salt flats. On the eastern side of the Andes, there are areas of tropical dry forest and the Yungas, a narrow strip of tropical montane moist forest. At lower elevations east of the Andes the terrain grades into the Chaco, a tropical dry forest of cactuses, bushes, and thorny trees. To the south, the Chaco becomes more arid. The Pampeanas Mountains are a dry-land region of mountains and eroded rock formations in central Argentina. To the west of the arid Chaco, the Argentine Monte is an arid region at the base of the Andes. The southern Andes contain steppe vegetation. The Chilean coastal portions in the south are in the matorral, a Mediterranean scrub vegetation. Continue reading