Iquique is a port city and commune in northern Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, capital of both the Iquique Province
Iquique Province
Iquique Province is one of two provinces in the northern Chilean region of Tarapacá . Its capital is the port city of Iquique.-History:Until October 2007, the Province of Iquique was composed of 7 communes: High Hospice, Camina, Colchane, Huara, Iquique, Pica and Pozo Almonte, but since then, with...

 and Tarapacá Region
Tarapacá Region
The I Tarapacá Region is one of Chile's 15 first order administrative divisions. It borders the Chilean Arica and Parinacota Region to the north, Bolivia's Oruro Department on the east, the Antofagasta Region on the south and the Pacific Ocean on the west. The port city of Iquique The I Tarapacá...

. It lies on the Pacific coast
Pacific Coast
A country's Pacific coast is the part of its coast bordering the Pacific Ocean.-The Americas:Countries on the western side of the Americas have a Pacific coast as their western border.* Geography of Canada* Geography of Chile* Geography of Colombia...

, west of the Atacama Desert
Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is, according to NASA, National Geographic and many other publications, the driest desert in the world...

 and the Pampa del Tamarugal
Pampa del Tamarugal
Pampa del Tamarugal is a vast plain encompassing a significant portion of the Norte Grande, Chile, and originally named for the Prosopis tamarugo trees that used to cover its surface. It is located between the parallels 19°30’ and 22°15’ south latitude and is considered part of the Atacama Desert...

. It had a population of 216,419 as of the 2002 census. It is also the main commune of the Greater Iquique
Greater Iquique
Greater Iquique is a Chilean conurbation that includes Iquique and Alto Hospicio communes in the Iquique Province in Tarapacá Region. It has an estimated population of 264,682 for 2008 becoming the second largest city in Norte Grande Far North after Antofagasta. It's desigantion as a metropolitan...


Iquique has one of the largest duty-free commercial port centers (or Zona Franca) of South America and has been traditionally called Zofri. There are around 2.4 square kilometre (0.926645180622084 sq mi) of warehouses, banking branches, and restaurants.

Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 mining, mainly in Quebrada Blanca, Cerro Colorado, and Doña Inés de Collahuasí, is also an important industry in Iquique.


Although the city was founded in the sixteenth century, there is evidence of habitation in the area by the Chango
Changos was a tribe of native South Americans who appear to have originally inhabited the Peruvian coast and spread south to the coast of Atacama, in northern Chile and further south. They lived from fishing, gathering shellfish, and hunting sea lions. In former times they used rafts of inflated...

 people as early as 7,000 BC. During colonial times, Iquique was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru
Viceroyalty of Peru
Created in 1542, the Viceroyalty of Peru was a Spanish colonial administrative district that originally contained most of Spanish-ruled South America, governed from the capital of Lima...

 as much of South America was at the time, and remained part of Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

vian territory until the end of the 19th century. Iquique's early development was due in large part to the discovery of mineral riches, particularly the presence of large deposits of sodium nitrate
Sodium nitrate
Sodium nitrate is the chemical compound with the formula NaNO3. This salt, also known as Chile saltpeter or Peru saltpeter to distinguish it from ordinary saltpeter, potassium nitrate, is a white solid which is very soluble in water...

 in the Atacama Desert
Atacama Desert
The Atacama Desert is a plateau in South America, covering a strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is, according to NASA, National Geographic and many other publications, the driest desert in the world...

 (then part of Peruvian territory).

In July 1835, Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

, during his voyage on the Beagle, traveled to Iquique and described it as a town "very much in want of everyday necessities, such as water and firewood". These necessities had to be brought in from considerable distances. Darwin also visited the saltpeter
Potassium nitrate
Potassium nitrate is a chemical compound with the formula KNO3. It is an ionic salt of potassium ions K+ and nitrate ions NO3−.It occurs as a mineral niter and is a natural solid source of nitrogen. Its common names include saltpetre , from medieval Latin sal petræ: "stone salt" or possibly "Salt...


In 1868
1868 Arica earthquake
The 1868 Arica earthquake was an earthquake that occurred on August 13, 1868, near Arica, then part of Peru, now part of Chile, at 21:30 UTC. It had an estimated magnitude between 8.5 and 9.0...

 and again in 1877
1877 Iquique earthquake
The 1877 Iquique earthquake occurred at 21:16 local time on 9 May . It had a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale and a maximum felt intensity of XI on the Mercalli intensity scale and triggered a devastating tsunami...

, the city was devastated by earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s. On 13 June 2005, there was yet another earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.9 on the Richter Scale
Richter magnitude scale
The expression Richter magnitude scale refers to a number of ways to assign a single number to quantify the energy contained in an earthquake....


Territorial disputes
Atacama border dispute
The Atacama border dispute was a dispute between Chile and Bolivia in the 19th century that ended in the transfer to Chile of all of the Bolivian Coast and the southern tip of Bolivia's ally Peru through the Treaty of Ancón with Peru and the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1904 between Chile and...

 between Bolivia and Chile triggered the War of the Pacific
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific took place in western South America from 1879 through 1883. Chile fought against Bolivia and Peru. Despite cooperation among the three nations in the war against Spain, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the...

 in 1879. The Battle of Iquique
Battle of Iquique
The Battle of Iquique was a confrontation that occurred on May 21, 1879, during the naval stage of the War of the Pacific, a conflict between Chile and Peru and Bolivia. The battle took place off the, by then, Peruvian port of Iquique...

 was fought in the harbor of Iquique on 21 May 1879, now commemorated as Navy Day
Navy Day
Several nations observe or have observed a Navy Day to recognize their navy. The term is also used in Britain to mean an open day at a dockyard such as HMNB Portsmouth, when the public can visit military ships and see air displays, roughly along the lines of an American Fleet Week .- Argentina...

, an annual public holiday in Chile
Public holidays in Chile
This is a list of public holidays in Chile; most of them are Christian holidays.-Dates for the year 2011:-History:...

. The outcome of the war gave Chile this portion of the Peruvian territory.

Over the years there was substantial emigration from other parts of Chile to this area which was called the Norte Grande. In subsequent years the further exportation of Chilean saltpeter (mainly to European countries) significantly helped in the development of the city, attracting foreigners and rapidly expanding housing projects.

In December 1907, the city was marred by the Santa María de Iquique Massacre when the Chilean Army
Chilean Army
The Chilean Army is the land arm of the Military of Chile. This 45,000-person army is organized into seven divisions, a special operations brigade and an air brigade....

, under the command of Gen. Roberto Silva-Renard, opened fire on thousands of saltpeter miners, and their wives and children, who assembled inside the Santa María School. The workers had marched into town to protest their working conditions and wages. Somewhere between 500 and 2,000 people were killed. The folk group Quilapayún
Quilapayún are an instrumental and vocal folk music group from Chile and among the longest lasting and most influential exponents of the Nueva Canción Chilena movement. Formed in Chile during the mid-1960s, the group became inseparable with the revolution that occurred in the popular music of the...

 recorded an album in remembrance of the event (Cantata Santa María de Iquique
Cantata Santa María de Iquique
Santa María de Iquique, cantata popular is a cantata composed in 1969 by the Chilean composer Luis Advis Vitaglich, combining elements of both classical and folkloric/indigenous musical traditions to produce what became known as a popular cantata and one of Quilapayún’s most acclaimed and popular...

) in 1970. In December 2007 a series of cultural and ceremonial activities were planned, culminating in the week between 14 to 21 December, to commemorate the centenary year of the massacre.

Prior to becoming Chilean territory, Iquique was home to some of the greatest Peruvian heroes, namely Alfonso Ugarte
Alfonso Ugarte
Alfonso Ugarte was a Peruvian military commander during the War of the Pacific, between Peru and Bolivia against Chile. He ultimately rose to the rank of Colonel....

 (who was elected Mayor in 1876), Ramon Zavala, a rich saltpeter entrepreneur; Guillermo Billinghurst
Guillermo Billinghurst
Guillermo Enrique Billinghurst Angulo was a Peruvian politician. He succeeded Augusto B. Leguía as President of Peru from 1912 to 1914. Billinghurst was of English descent...

, later President of Peru (who after being overthrown in 1914 came to Iquique - then already under Chilean rule - to live out his last years), and Ramon Castilla
Ramón Castilla
Ramón Castilla y Marquesado was a Peruvian caudillo and President of Peru four times. His earliest prominent appearance in Peruvian history began with his participation in a commanding role of the army of the Libertadores that helped Peru become an independent nation...

, three times president of Peru, who was born in San Lorenzo de Tarapacá and died in the Desert of Tiviliche, Tarapacá
Tarapacá Province (Peru)
The Province of Tarapacá was an old territorial division of Peru, which existed from 1837 until 1883.* It was created in 1837, in Litoral Department....

, who lived in Iquique during his mandate as Governor of Tarapacá in 1825.


As a commune, Iquique is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council
Municipal council
A municipal council is the local government of a municipality. Specifically the term can refer to the institutions of various countries that can be translated by this term...

, headed by an alcalde
Alcalde , or Alcalde ordinario, is the traditional Spanish municipal magistrate, who had both judicial and administrative functions. An alcalde was, in the absence of a corregidor, the presiding officer of the Castilian cabildo and judge of first instance of a town...

 who is directly elected every four years. The 2008-2012 alcalde is Myrta Dubost.

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Iquique is represented in the Chamber of Deputies
Chamber of Deputies of Chile
The Chamber of Deputies of the Republic of Chile is the lower house of Chile's bicameral Congress. Its organisation and its powers and duties are defined in articles 42 to 59 of Chile's current constitution....

 by Mrs. Marta Isasi (Ind.
Independent (politician)
In politics, an independent or non-party politician is an individual not affiliated to any political party. Independents may hold a centrist viewpoint between those of major political parties, a viewpoint more extreme than any major party, or they may have a viewpoint based on issues that they do...

) and Mr. Hugo Gutiérrez (PC
Communist Party of Chile
The Communist Party of Chile is a Chilean political party inspired by the thoughts of Karl Marx and Lenin. It was founded in 1922, as the continuation of the Socialist Workers Party, and in 1934 it established its youth wing, the Communist Youth of Chile .In the last legislative elections in Chile...

) as part of the 2nd electoral district, which includes the entire Tarapacá Region
Tarapacá Region
The I Tarapacá Region is one of Chile's 15 first order administrative divisions. It borders the Chilean Arica and Parinacota Region to the north, Bolivia's Oruro Department on the east, the Antofagasta Region on the south and the Pacific Ocean on the west. The port city of Iquique The I Tarapacá...

.The commune is represented in the Senate
Senate of Chile
The Senate of the Republic of Chile is the upper house of Chile's bicameral National Congress, as established in the current Constitution of Chile.-Composition:...

 by Fulvio Rossi Ciocca (PS
Socialist Party of Chile
The Socialist Party of Chile is a political party, that is part of the center-left Coalition of Parties for Democracy coalition. Its historical leader was the late President of Chile Salvador Allende Gossens, who was deposed by General Pinochet in 1973...

) and Jaime Orpis Bouchon (UDI) as part of the 1st senatorial constituency (Arica and Parinacota Region and Tarapacá Region).


According to the 2002 census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 of National Statistics Institute
National Statistics Institute (Chile)
The National Statistics Institute of Chile is a state-run organization of the Government of Chile, created in the second half of the 19th century and tasked with performing a general census of population and housing, then collecting, producing and publishing official demographic statistics of...

 (INE), the commune of Iquique had an area of 2835.3 sqkm and 216,419 inhabitants (108,897 men and 107,522 women). Of these, 214,586 (99.2%) lived in urban area
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

s and 1,833 (0.9%) in rural areas. The township has an area of 2262.4 sqkm and a population of 166,204 inhabitants. The population grew by 42.7% (64,742 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses. Iquique is home to 56% of the total population of the Tarapacá region. In 2008, the city had 226,204 habitants.

Iquique commune is divided into the following districts:
District 2002 Population Census Area (km²)
Port 3,721 0.8
Industrial District 12,800 65.4
Hospital 11,087 5.1
Caupolicán 19,486 2.2
Playa Brava 18,580 2.1
Cavancha 13,729 1.4
Parque Balmaceda 10,843 1.1
Arturo Prat 10,773 1.0
Punta Lobos 1,592 2,127.8
Gómez Carreño 23,165 1.7
La Tirana 40,428 33.5

There is a significant percentage of ethnic group colony residents. The most numerous communities are Croatian, Italian, Greek
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Chinese
Chinese people
The term Chinese people may refer to any of the following:*People with Han Chinese ethnicity ....

, Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

ic nationalities, Peruvians and Bolivian
Bolivian may refer to:* Something of, or related to Bolivia** Demographics of Bolivia** Culture of BoliviaBolivian is a citizen of Bolivia...

s, British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 peoples (i.e. Scots
Scottish people
The Scottish people , or Scots, are a nation and ethnic group native to Scotland. Historically they emerged from an amalgamation of the Picts and Gaels, incorporating neighbouring Britons to the south as well as invading Germanic peoples such as the Anglo-Saxons and the Norse.In modern use,...

) and the French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...


In the 1910s and 1920s, about a thousand East Indian
Indian people
Indian people or Indisians constitute the Asian nation and pan-ethnic group native to India, which forms the south of Asia, containing 17.31% of the world's population. The Indian nationality is in essence made up of regional nationalities, reflecting the rich and complex history of India...

 (from India and Pakistani) salitre mine workers hired by British mine companies appeared in Iquique and today, their descendants mixed into the local population. Lately, a wave of North American and Australian immigrants came to retire and enjoy the city's beach climate. Immigrants currently correspond to 9.2% of the total population.
Population evolution of the commune of Iquique:
1992 2002
146,089 166,204

Population evolution of the city of Iquique:
1992 2002
145,139 164,396

External links

Waykike magazine Iquique's CityHall Digital Newspaper Iquique On Line Somos Iquique Blog
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