May 30, 2012

0231 CHILE (Antofagasta) - In the land of the Atacameño

We all learned in school that the Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth. Maybe also the fact that it has an area about as a third of Poland. The average rainfall in the region of Antofagasta is just 1mm per year (for comparison, in Rome is 834 mm per year). It seems that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971, and in a region about 100km south of Antofagasta, which averages 3,000m height, the soil is comparable to that of Mars.

Atacama is an area sparsely populated, with most cities located along the Pacific coast, but also in oases and some valleys, which were the seat of the most advanced Pre-Columbian societies found in Chile. San Pedro de Atacama, at about 2,000m elevation, is a typical example in this regard, being built around an oasis in the Puna de Atacama, an arid high plateau. In pre-Hispanic era, even before the Inca empire, it was inhabited by the Atacameño tribe, noted for the construction of fortified towns called pucarás. Around the town there are 12 ayllus, territorial, productive and social units, typical of the traditional organizing way of the Atacameño. San Pedro de Atacama was included in 1998 on the tentative lists of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In this almost unearthly image can be seen, in fact, hills of salt in the Sico Pass (4,079m), located on the main divide of the Andes, on the border between Chile and Argentina, connecting San Pedro de Atacama with Catua, on the Argentinian side.

As always, Hernán used many stamps, namely four. The first is part of the series Universidad de Talca, about which I wrote here (I have now two of four). The second belong to the Valparaíso, Patrimonio de la Humanidad set, about which I wrote also here.

The third is part of the series dedicated to the painter Roberto Matta, about which I wrote here.

The last stamp is part of the Fiestas Nacionales (National Holidays) series, issued on October 30, 2008, and containing five values:
• Cuasimodo ($10) - it’s on the postcard
• La Vendimia ($200)
• La Tirana ($1,000)
• Fiestas Patrias ($2,000)
• El Rodeo ($5,000)

sender: Hernán (direct swap)
sent from Santiago (Chile), on 07.04.2012

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