The Port of Coquimbo lies on the southern shores of Coquimbo Bay in central Chile on one of the best sheltered harbors in the country. Located on the Pan-American Highway, it is a commercial and trade hub. With little rain and an average temperature of about 14°C (57°F), the Port of Coquimbo is a popular South American seacoast resort. In 2002, the city was home to about 148 thousand people, and almost 300 thousand people lived in the La Serena-Coquimbo metropolitan area.
The Port of Coquimbo is a fast-growing shipping and industrial center. Its well-protected harbor is the winter refuge for the Chilean navy, and the port is busy with a variety of cargoes that include cement, agricultural products, fertilizers, ores, and concentrates.
Coquimbo means “Place of Still Waters,” and the name came from the beautiful quiet bay upon which the city rests. Indigenous peoples used the natural harbor as a port long before the Spanish conquerors arrived.
Spain’s Pedro de Valdivia took the harbor in 1550. During the 1840s, mining made the Port of Coquimbo an important export center for gold and copper, and many Europeans (particularly the English) settled there. Today, the city boasts many buildings in English architectural styles and an English graveyard. It was officially recognized as a town in 1867.
The area is full of stories about pirates and corsairs that plundered the coast, and rumors of buried treasure abound. The area was visited by privateers like Francis Drake, Davies, and Sharp.
Modern Coquimbo is undergoing an urban renewal effort today, and tourism is becoming an important economic sector.