Chile Table of Contents
The near north (Norte Chico) extends from the Río Copiapó to about 32° south latitude, or just north of Santiago. It is a semiarid region whose central area receives an average of about twenty-five millimeters of rain during each of the four winter months, with trace amounts the rest of the year. The near north is also subject to droughts. The temperatures are moderate, with an average of 18.5° C during the summer and about 12° C during the winter at sea level. The winter rains and the melting of the snow that accumulates on the Andes produce rivers whose flow varies with the seasons, but which carry water year round. Their deep transverse valleys provide broad areas for cattle raising and, most important, fruit growing, an activity that has developed greatly since the mid-1970s.
As in the for north, the coastal areas of the near north have a distinct microclimate. In those sections where the airborne moisture of the sea is trapped by high bluffs overlooking the ocean, temperate rain forests develop as the vegetation precipitates the vapor in the form of a misty rain. Because the river valleys provide breaks in the coastal elevations, maritime moisture can penetrate inland and further decrease the generally arid climate in those valleys. The higher elevations in the interior sections are covered with shrubs and cacti of various kinds.
Data as of March 1994