The Atacameño people are an indigenous group who traditionally lived in the Andean region of the Atacama Desert, which is located primarily in the northern part of present-day Chile. The Atacameño people have existed in that area for thousands of years (as far back as 9000 BCE). They began as hunters-gatherers, but quickly reached a point where they primarily farmed and raised llamas. For much of history, they were essentially nomadic and survived thanks to a strategy of moving between small villages and pastoral farms. They also had a rich trading economy, which was based on using caravans to exchange goods—such as livestock, agricultural products, crafts, and metals—with the surrounding villages of the Puna de Atacama.
According to the 2002 Chilean Census, there are just over 21,000 individuals in Chile that identify themselves as Atacameño, which (according to 2009 CASEN data) makes them approximately 2.6% of the indigenous population living in the country.
A more detailed history is forthcoming.