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Mining drives Copiapó's economy. The town grew significantly during the 18th-century gold rush, and again in 1832 when silver was discovered at Chañarcillo. Today, most mines quarry gold and copper, and are operated by the state’s company, Codelco, or private interests.


On August 5, 2010, Copiapó became the scenario of a real-live reality show, riveting the attention of over 1 billion viewers world-wide. A cave-in at the privately-owned Mina San José, 45 kilometers (28 mi) north of Copiapó, trapped 33 miners 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground. After consulting international experts, Chile took the reins on the rescue operation. After a record 69 days below ground, all men were pulled safely to the surface. The entire operation cost $20 million, covered by private, Codelco and federal coffers.


Until the rescue mission museum opens, the casual traveler will still find Copiapó a nice place to break up the La Serena-Antofagasta trip, or to use as a base to explore the surrounding area.

Altitude: 291 meters/955 feet, Population: 130,990, Telephone code: 52.

Neighborhoods in Copiapó: Around Copiapó,

Other places nearby Copiapó: Alto del Carmen, Parque Nacional Pan de Azúcar, Hurtado, Caldera, Los Vilos, Ovalle, Vallenar, La Serena, Illapel and Vicuña.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

13 Dec 2010

Things to do in Copiapó

Museo Regional de Atacama

The museum is home to displays on the War of the Pacific, on the history and development of mining in the region and on the pre-Columbian inhabitants in the region. It is the former mansion of the ...
Copiapó, Chile

Museo Minerológico

The Museo Minerológico is one of the most noteworthy and interesting places to visit in Copiapó. Founded in 1857 and supported by the Universidad de Atacama, it hosts a collection of more than 2000 ...
Copiapó, Chile

Escuela de Minas

The Escuela de Minas (School of Mines) located west of town is now home to the Universidad de Atacama. Railroad enthusiasts cannot miss the attention-grabbing black-and-yellow Locomotion Copiapó ...
Historical Building
Copiapó, Chile

Palacete Viña de Cristo

Although now it belongs to the Universidad de Atacama, this palace once was the premier place to live in Copiapó. It was built in 1860 by Apolinario Soto - who made his fortune as the owner of Tres ...
Historical Building
Copiapó, Chile

Iglesia Catedral

Iglesia Catedral is an English-designed church perched on the southwest corner of the Plaza Prat. It was given a three-tiered tower and a tiered wooden steeple by British architect William ...
Historical Building
Copiapó, Chile


The ruins of the mining town of Chañarcillo can be visited on a day trip from Copiapó. When silver was found in Chañarcillo in the 1800s, the population of the whole area boomed. ...
Around Copiapó, Copiapó, Chile

Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces

Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces hosts some incredible sights. It includes two separate sectors of the high Andes which total approximately 60,000 hectares about 4,500 meters above sea level. Both ...
Around Copiapó, Copiapó, Chile

Ojos del Salado

Though it is not part of Parque Nacional Nevado Tres Cruces, Ojos del Salado forms the highest peak in Chile and highest active volcano in the world at 6,893 meters. Do not worry too much about being ...
Around Copiapó, Copiapó, Chile
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