Atacama people

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Remains of the Tulor settlement (800 BC) near San Pedro de Atacama

The Atacameños (also called Atacamas or Likan-antay) are a Native American people that inhabits the Andean portion of the Atacama Desert, mainly in what is today Chile's Antofagasta Region. Their language is known as Kunza.

The most ancient people of the Atacama desert were nomadic hunters that followed herds of wild camelids. Later, the existence of vast herds of camelids and the better knowledge of primitive agricultural methods contributed to the development of a semi-sedentary lifestyle with seasonal movements.[1]

Around 2000-1000 BC, the Atacameño people fully adopted the sedentary culture. At this stage, they had an economy mainly based on llama breeding and maize agriculture.[1]

Between 400 BC and 100 AD, Atacameño farming reached a peak in its development, mainly in the oases of Lasana, Chiu-Chiu, Calama, San Pedro de Atacama, Peine, Tilomonte, Toconao.[2]

About 24,000 Atacameño people remain today (most in Chile) although nobody is known to continue to speak the Kunza language and the language is thought to have been extinct since the 1950s.

Location of the Atacameños


  1. ^ a b "San Pedro de Atacama". Entry on the UNESCO Tentative List. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  2. ^ "Atacameño". Reseña Histórica. Archived from the original on 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2007-08-26.