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Brief history of Iquique

The date of the foundation of Iquique is uncertain; all we have is an approximate date of 7,000 BC. Iquique, whose name means “the gizzard of a bird” was founded by the pre-Colombian Chango people.

The city’s history has been defined by economic cycles, the first one being the guano extraction period. After this came the mining of silver, first worked by the Spaniards in 1542. Then, in 1830, the first shipment of nitrates to a foreign destination was made, marking the start of the period which would raise the city to the pinnacle of fortune.

When the last nitrates plant, Victoria, was closed, the end of that magnificent period was greeted with sadness, but it was replaced by fish, which is a rich resource along the coast. This occurred around 1960.

All the economic development which has occurred in the city has brought with it the construction of beautiful houses and buildings for various purposes. The occurrence of two earthquakes and tidal waves in 1868 and 1877 destroyed virtually all of these.

Then, under Chilean administration, the cove of Iquique became a port, and a busy, feverish, cosmopolitan city. Thus by 1925 there was a wealth of construction of new houses and other buildings for public services, such as the horseracing course and the bicycle track.

Today, the latest economic cycles to bring life and wealth are copper, the Freezone (business) and tourism. What remains of the past are the memories represented by the National Monuments and other important buildings which are still preserved.

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