COPIAPO, a city of northern Chile, capital of the province of Atacama, about 35 m. from the coast on the Copiapó river, in lat. 27° 36' S., long. 70° 23' W. Pop. (1895) 9301. The Caldera & Copiapó railway (built 1848-1851 and one of the first in South America) extends beyond Copiapó to the Chañarcillo mines (50 m.) and other mining districts. Copiapó stands 1300 ft. above sea-level and has a mean temperature of about 67° in summer and 51° in winter. Its port, Caldera, 50 m. distant by rail, is situated on a well-sheltered bay with good shipping facilities about 6 m. N. of the mouth of the Copiapó river. Copiapó is perhaps the best built and most attractive of the desert region cities. The river brings down from the mountains enough water to supply the town and irrigate a considerable area in its vicinity. Beyond the small fertile valley in which it stands is the barren desert, on which rain rarely falls and which has no economic value apart from its minerals (especially saline compounds). Copiapó was founded in 1742 by José de Manso (afterwards Conde de Superunda, viceroy of Peru) and took its name from the Copayapu Indians who occupied that region. It was primarily a military station and transport post on the road to Peru, but after the discovery of the rich silver deposits near Chañarcillo by Juan Godoy in 1832 it became an important mining centre. It has a good mining school and reduction works, and is the supply station for an extensive mining district. For many years the Famatina mines of Argentina received supplies from this point by way of the Come-Caballo pass.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)