Although differences between coastal, highland, and tropical cultures are clear in earlier times, it was in the Late Preceramic Period that regional distinctions came into sharp focus as different sectors of the Central Andes took somewhat divergent paths in their economies, political systems, and religious practices. Our understanding of this divergence is partly due to the availability of more archaeological data from later periods, but it is also likely due to greater numbers of people who fine-tuned their adaptations to local environments and differentiated themselves from their neighbors. Defining the differences and similarities, and explaining how and why they came about, are pursuits that have preoccupied scholars for a considerable amount of time.