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Chañaral
Chañaral square and church
Coat of arms of Chañaral
Coat of arms
Country  Chile
Region Atacama
Province Chañaral
Founded 26 October 1833
Area
 • Total 5,772.4 km2 (2,228.7 sq mi)
Elevation
198 m (650 ft)
Population
 (2002 Census)
 • Total 13,143
 • Density 2.27687/km2 (5.89706/sq mi)
Time zone UTC−4 (CLT)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−3 (CLST)
Area code(s) 56 + 552
Climate BWn
Website Official website

Chañaral is a small coastal city and commune in the Atacama region in the north of Chile. It is the capital of the province of Chañaral.

Its name, Chañaral means a "place where there are many trees of chaña" (the Chilean name for Geoffroea decorticans).

History

Faro Monumental Chañaral
Monumental lighthouse in Chañaral.

In 1824, Diego de Almeyda found a large area with copper ore in the region; later, he looked for a place from where to export the mineral and began to form a small village in the place where is the present town of Chanaral. In 26 October 1833, José Joaquín Prieto founded the Distrito de Chañaral ("Chañaral District").

Geography

The commune of Chañaral has an area of 5,772.4 km2 (2,228.7 sq mi). The city of Chañaral is to the north of Santiago at 788 km (490 mi) and to the north of the city of Copiapó at 167 km (104 mi).

The commune is bordered on the north by the Antofagasta region, on the east by the Diego de Almagro commune, on the south by the Copiapó province and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Near the town of Chañaral, to the north, is the Pan de Azúcar National Park.

The Salado river flows into the Pacific Ocean in the commune of Chañaral; it is about 140 km (87 mi) long.

Chañaral has a very dry climate, a desert climate. The average amount of precipitation for the year, during 47 years, is only 12.3 mm (0.5 in).

Population

As of 2002 (last national census), there were 13,143 people living in the commune, giving it a population density of 2.3 inhabitants/km².

Chañaral is the largest city of the province with a population, in 2002, of 12,123 inhabitants. The small town of Salado has 1,149 inhabitants.

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