Antofagasta Region

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II Región de Antofagasta
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Capital Antofagasta
Provinces Tocopilla

El Loa


  - Total

Ranked 2nd

126,049.1 km²


  - 2002 Census
  - Density

Ranked 9th


ISO 3166-2 CL-AN

Antofagasta is Chile's second administrative region from north to south.


Antofagasta's history is divided, as the territory, in two sections, the coastal region and the highlands plateau or altiplano around the Andes. In precolumbian times, the coastline was populated by fisher-gatherer nomadic clans of Changos Indians, of whom very little is known, since they had very limited contact with Spanish conquistadors.

The inland section was populated by the atacaman culture around the great Atacama Salar (dry salt lake), the Loa river basin and valleys and oasis across the altiplano, with the most important settlement being the village of San Pedro de Atacama.

The atacaman culture was deeply influenced by Tiwanaku culture and later fell under Inca rule. Atacamans harvested mainly corn and beans and developed trade as far as the Amazon basin and Pacific shores. The arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century did not destroy the culture but transformed it deeply through the process of mestizaje, in which both cultures mixed. Under the Spanish rule, Atacaman territory (the inlands), was placed under the administration of Charcas Audience and at the time of independence general Simón Bolívar integrated (both inland and coast regions) into the new Republic of Bolivia, under the name of "Litoral". This adjudication was contested by the Chilean Government and several treaties were signed between the two nations, meantime, Chileans explorers such as Juan López and José Santos Ossa discovered rich nitrate and guano deposits which drove a massive Chilean colonization of the coastline. Tensions between the new (and almost only) settlers and Bolivian authorities grew until 1879 when the War of the Pacific erupted. Antofagasta was permanently annexed by the Chilean government at the end of the war.

Colonization by Chileans followed mainly from the "Little North" (the contemporary regions of Atacama and Coquimbo, aka III and IV regions), into the new territories of Antofagasta and Tarapacá, nicknamed Great North. Settlers also arrived from Europe (mainly Croats, Spaniards, Britons and Greeks), from Arab countries, plus China, Peru and Bolivia. Various immigration flows joined with the culture of the altiplano region creating the modern culture of the north of Chile, which arguably presents more Andean- and multi-European-features than the Central Valley (and mainstream Chilean culture).

A significant base of Chile's union-organizing movements in the early 20th century, the region depended upon the nitrate-extraction industry until its replacement by copper mining. Two of the largest and richest open pit mines in the world are located in Antofagasta: La Escondida and Chuquicamata.


Mostly a desert climate, part of the Atacama Desert, with variations in the amount of annual rainfall from the coast to the highland desert.

Economic Activities

This is mostly a mining region, with mining-related activities accounting for 59% of the regional economy, also fishing exploitation and industrial production.

The main river is the Loa.

Regions of Chile
Flag of Chile
I: Tarapacá | II: Antofagasta | III: Atacama | IV: Coquimbo | V: Valparaíso | VI: O'Higgins | VII: Maule | VIII: Bío-Bío | IX: Araucanía | X: Los Lagos | XI: Aysen | XII: Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena
RM: Santiago Metropolitan Region
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