The Atacarma desert in northern Chile is the driest place on Earth.
Chile is a wonderful amazing country but the local diet makes it quite a challenging place for a backpacking vegan as potatos or "papas" seem to be the only vegetable eaten, usually accompanied with a big slab of meat.
Despite the name of the country the food is very plain rather than spicy and it is really hard to find real coffee. A Chilean told me that they consider themselves to be the English of South America and indeed tea is the national drink.
Chile is said to be where the potato originated, Chiloe Island to be more precise.
There is some interest in researching less well known indigenous varieties of potato from southern America as they may have natural resistance to Phytopathora infestans which causes potato blight, the disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine.
On September 11, 1973 there was a coup d'etat in Chile which deposed the democratically elected leftwing President Salvadore Allende to be replaced by the brutal Military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
In October 1988 Chile returned to democracy.