Chile > Caldera

Caldera, Chile

Caldera is a port city and commune in the Copiapó Province of the Atacama Region in northern Chile. It has an excellent harbor, protected by breakwaters, being the port city for the productive mining district centering on Copiapó to which it is connected by the first railroad constructed in Chile.

Geography and climate

Caldera lies about 75 km (47 mi) west of Copiapó at the Pacific. The climate is mostly warm and extremely dry, because of its location on the Atacama desert's coast. But the temperatures are moderated by the cooling sea currents. However, lately the climate has become colder due to the climatic change. The commune spans an area of 4,666.6 km2 (1,802 sq mi).


In 1687, Englishman Edward Davis reached the Playa Bahia Inglesa 6 km (4 mi) south of Caldera. In 1840, William Wheelwright of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company visited the region of Caldera. On his proposal the first railway was created in the year of 1851 from Caldera to Copiapó. Its inauguration was on Christmas Day in 1851. Caldera became an important port for the exportation of minerals. The city itself was officially founded on 23 September 1850.

The city has been struck by earthquakes and tsunamis several times the major ones being that of 1868, 1877 and 1922. During the 1891 Chilean Civil War, Caldera Bay outside the city became the site of the Battle of Caldera Bay where torpedo boats loyal to Manuel Balmaceda sunk the rebel ironclad Blanco Encalada.


In 1903, 2,130 people lived in Caldera. According to the 2002 census of the National Statistics Institute, Caldera had 13,734 inhabitants (7,237 men and 6,497 women). Of these, 13,540 (98.6%) lived in urban areas and 194 (1.4%) in rural areas. The population grew by 13.9% (1,673 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses.

Tourist attractions




Mainstays of the economy are copper ore mining and cultivation of citrus plants which are exported via the port. Fishing and tourism play also an important role. The nice beaches attract many visitors.


As a commune, Caldera is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde (mayor) who is directly elected every four years. The 2012-2016 mayor is Patricia González Brizuela (UDI).

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Caldera is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Mr. Alberto Robles (PRSD) and Mrs. Yasna Provoste (DC) as part of the 6th electoral district, (together with Tierra Amarilla, Vallenar, Freirina, Huasco and Alto del Carmen). The commune is represented in the Senate by Isabel Allende Bussi (PS) and Baldo Prokurica Prokurica (RN) as part of the 3rd senatorial constituency (Atacama Region).

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