The indigenous plant life of Chile varies according to climatic zone. Plant life in the northern region includes brambles and cactus and has little variety. Here, the Atacama provides one of the best examples on Earth of an absolute desert. The more humid Central Valley supports several species of cacti, espino (a thorny shrub), grasses, and the Chilean pine, which bears edible nuts. Dense rain forests are located south of Valdivia with laurel, magnolia, false beech, and various species of conifers. In the extreme south, a steppe vegetation of grasses is found.
Animal life is less diversified than in other parts of South America because of the barrier to animal migration presented by the Andes. Indigenous mammals include llama, alpaca, vicuña, guanaco, puma, Andean wolf, huemul (a large deer, also spelled guemal), pudu (a small deer), and chinchilla. Birdlife is varied, but most of the larger South American types are absent. Aside from trout, which were introduced from North America, few freshwater fish inhabit Chilean streams and lakes. The coastal waters abound in fish and marine animals.
Chile is rich in mineral resources, chiefly because of the size of the deposits rather than because of the diversity of minerals. Copper is by far the most important mineral. Others include nitrates, iron ore, coal, molybdenum, manganese, petroleum and natural gas, silver, and gold. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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