The extreme north of Chile conceals a string of perfect reefs in the driest desert in the world, the Atacama. Unlike the long points of the southern Pichilemu area, most northern breaks are gnarly reefbreaks, breaking close to the shore. 400km (250mi) from Iquique and its North Shore-style concentration of reefs, Arica's fame comes from the magic Alacrán Peninsula, circled by four potential spots. An oasis in the Atacama Desert, Arica has been inhabited since at least 6000BC, well before the lure of its golden sand dunes, miles of seashore, duty-free shopping and lively nightlife helped it transform into an increasingly popular seaside resort. Only 20km (12.5mi) from the Peruvian border, Arica has been a trade city for centuries and only developed as a surf city when groups of Peruvian and southern Chilean surfers discovered the potential in the late '70s. Skills and equipment prevented the pioneers from tackling the reefbreaks, so the surfing scene was focused on the beachbreaks north of town.