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Iquique
City and Commune
Iquique
Top: View of downtown Iquique, 2nd left: Baquedano Square, 2nd right: Iquique Municipal Theater, Bottom: Cavancha Beach
Flag of Iquique
Flag
Coat of arms of Iquique
Coat of arms
Map of Iquique in Tarapacá Region
Map of Iquique in Tarapacá Region
Location in Chile
Country Chile
Region Tarapacá
Province Iquique
Founded 16th Century
Area
 • City and Commune 2,242.1 km2 (865.7 sq mi)
Elevation 1 m (3 ft)
Population (2012 Census)
 • City and Commune 180,601
 • Density 80.5499/km2 (208.623/sq mi)
 • Urban 183,997
Time zone CLT (UTC-4)
 • Summer (DST) CLST (UTC-3)
Postal code 1100000
Website Official website (Spanish)

Iquique is a port city and commune in northern Chile, capital of both the Iquique Province and Tarapacá Region. It lies on the Pacific coast, west of the Pampa del Tamarugal which is part of Atacama Desert. It had a population of 180,601 according to the 2012 census. It is also the main commune of the Greater Iquique. The city developed during the heyday of the saltpetre mining in Atacama Desert in the 19th century. Originally a Peruvian city with a large Chilean population it was ceded to Chile as result of War of the Pacific (1879–1883). Today it is one of only two free ports of Chile.

History

Although the city was founded in the 16th century, there is evidence of habitation in the area by the Chango people as early as 7,000 BC. During colonial times, Iquique was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru as much of South America was at the time, and remained part of Peruvian 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 in the Atacama Desert (then part of Peruvian territory).

In July 1835, Charles Darwin, 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 works.

The city has been devastated by several earthquakes, including the 1868 Arica earthquake, the 1877 Iquique earthquake, and the 2005 Tarapacá earthquake. The 2014 Iquique earthquake occurred with a moment magnitude of 8.2 on April 1, 2014.

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