The Atacama desert in Northern Chile is among the driest regions in the world. Many visitors come to see the spectacular landscape of the Andean Highlands. Snow-covered mountains more than 6000 m high contrasting with blue lakes, mountains showing all shades of red and brown due to their volcanic origin, and a number of geothermal areas with hot springs and geysers are among the natural attractions of the region. Northern Chile has been thriving on the mining industry since the middle of the 19th century. It started with saltpetre which came to an abrupt end at the beginning of the 20th century when the synthetic production of nitrates was invented. The remains of the old production sites are still impressive and provide an insight into the hard life of the workers. Nowadays copper has taken over the role of Chile's main export good and is mined in giant open pits. Furthermore some minerals like lithium are produced in the salt lakes.