Before 1842, when guano began to attract notice as an exportable product, Atacama was considered as Bolivian territory, and Coquimbo the extreme northern province of Chile.
Along the water parting to the Bolivian boundary line in the Cordillera Silillica.
It was formerly capital of the Bolivian department of Atacama and the only port possessed by Bolivia, but the seizure of that department in 1879 by Chile and the construction of the Antofagasta and Oruro railway deprived it of all importance, and its population, estimated at 6000 in 1858, has fallen to less than 500.
A relief map of Brazil shows two very irregular divisions of surface: the great river basins, or plains, of the Amazon-Tocantins and La Plata, which are practically connected by low elevations in Bolivia, and a huge, shapeless mass of highlands filling the eastern projection of the continent and extending southward to the plains of Rio Grande do Sul and westward to the Bolivian frontier.
At the southern frontier of Bolivia the main chain, which has served as the boundary line between Argentina and Chile, divides into two great ranges, the principal one continuing almost due north along the eastern side of the great Bolivian alto-planicie, and the other forming its western rim, where it is known as the Cordillera Silillica, and then following the trend of the coast north-westward into Peru becomes the Cordillera Occidental.
The natives designate the Bolivian climatic zones as yungas, valle or medio yungas, cabezera de valle, puna and puna brava.
This arid, bleak area is apparently a continuation southward of the great Bolivian altaplanicie, and is known as the Puna de Atacama.
The principal peaks of the Bolivian Andes and its prolongation from south to north, are Famatina, in the centre of Argentina, (20,340 ft.), Languna Blanca (18,307), Diamante (18,045), Cachi (20,000), Granadas, Lipez (19,680), Guadalupe (18,910), Chorolque (18,480), Cuzco (17,930), Enriaca (18,716), Junari (16,200), Michiga (17,410), Quimza-Cruz (18,280), Illimani (21,190) and Sorata (21,490).
The lake belongs to both Bolivia and Peru, and is navigated by steamers running between Bolivian ports and the Peruvian railway port of Puno.
Long from the Maranon to the Bolivian frontier, is naturally divided into two sections, the sub-tropical forests in the ravines and on the eastern slopes of the Andes, and the dense tropical forests in the Amazonian plain.