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Iquique Province
Type of Location
About Location

Iquique is a port city and commune in northern Chile, capital of both the Iquique Province and Tarapaca Region.It lies on the Pacific coast, west of the Atacama Desert and the Pampa del Tamarugal.It had a population of 216,419 as of the 2002 census.It is also the main commune of the Greater Iquique.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 kilometres (0.93 sq mi) of warehouses, banking branches, and restaurants.Copper mining, mainly in Quebrada Blanca, Cerro Colorado, and Dona Ines de Collahuasi, 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 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 December 1907, the city was marred by the Santa Maria de Iquique Massacre when the Chilean Army, 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 Maria 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 Quilapayun recorded an album in remembrance of the event (Cantata Santa Maria de Iquique) 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.

There is a significant percentage of ethnic group colony residents.The most numerous communities are Croatian, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Arabic nationalities, Peruvians and Bolivians, British peoples (i.e. Scots) and the French.In the 1910s and 1920s, about a thousand East Indian (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.

How to Reach

By Air

Many flights from Iquique's Diego Aracena Intrnational Airport (IATA: IQQ) connect daily with Santiago and other main cities in the country.International flights are offered to Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.

By Bus

Buses pull in on different locations.The 'main terminal' north of the centre serves most destinations, but quite a few buses from Arica pull in close to the central mercado in the cross between Calle Barros Arana and Thomson.'Tur-bus' have their own terminal on Calle Esmeralda.Several daily arrivals from Arica, Antofagasta and Santiago.Also buses from La Paz, Oruro and Cochabamba in Bolivia.

Key places to visit
Baquedano Street, The Astoreca Palace, Postmodern Brava Beach, Iquique Regional Museum, La Zofri


Places to Visit

Baquedano Street

Baquedano Street is a cobbled, old-Western style street with plentiful tourist and artisan activities. Buildings around constructed during the 19th century offer interesting architecture mainly in Georgian and Victorian Styles adapted to the coastal desertic climate.

The Astoreca Palace

Can be visited mainly downtown.Its origins are linked with the mining activities during that century, when European entrepreneurs became rich with the extraction of saltpetre and established their homes in the city.Many of them constructed big houses in different styles that predominated during the period and grouped in colonies with their respective buildings, with special stylistic, material and constructive adaptations to the climate of Iquique.The most emblematic house is The Astoreca Palace, that actually belongs to Arturo Prat University as an extension centre.Other important examples are The Spanish Casino, The Croatian Casino, The Chinese Club and The Municipal Theatre, one of the most important nationwide.

Postmodern Brava Beach

On this beach, dawn unveils hundreds of tourists and locals working out in the mornings. Its white and hard sands turn it into an ideal place for jogging. The ‘90s have left their trace in huge hotels which, with their modern and daring architecture, could take the sea up to the very rooms and common areas.On these beaches, as soon as the sun is hot, the surf boards seize the waters and, at the cry of “Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody´s learning how” (the song which made surfing famous in the world), dozens of young boys and girls from all around Chile begin to go deep into the sea.

Iquique Regional Museum

Is a museum shelters several unimagined worlds.With the salt, the primitive peoples, anthropology and archeology, anything is possible inside this venue.A limited entrance lets visitors into one of the most beautiful museums in Chile as far as architecture and culture are concerned.Hundreds of children visit this venue everyday in the company of their teachers and tourists from all over the world are surprised by what they can find there.

La Zofri

Is one of the most visited places in Chile.It is neither a tourist destination nor a geographical feature. It is the largest tax-free area in Northern Chile.A must visit.La Zofri is open 365 days a year to offer products from the world, especially from the Asian market.Thus, thousands and thousands of Chileans visit this place every day in a routine that implies buying, buying, buying, having lunch and keep on buying until their pockets ask for a break.There is stock for millions of pockets.The curious thing is that this attraction, which in fact was created by a political-economical resolution, turned into one of the most important shopping tours in the City of Iquique.

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