Before the arrival of the Spaniards, Kunza was the dominant language in the Atacameño area, spoken in the towns that lived by the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama and Lasana.
Kunza belongs to the macro-chibcha linguistic family and paezano sub-family, coming from the west of Colombia and Ecuador.
The Atacameño language is not in the andean-ecuatorial linguistic family, to which the three indigenous languages spoken in modern continental Chile belong.
The Atacameño people ended up speaking four languages: they spoke Kunza as their first language until the Spaniards arrived, along with Aymara, Quechua and Castilian.
With the Hispanic domain, starting from the XVIIth century, Kunza began to be displaced by Spanish, until losing its habitual use, during the first decades of the XXth century.
At the moment, Kunza is practically a dead language, used only in ceremonies and ritual songs.