Puerto San Antonio is Chile’s largest port and the busiest port on South America’s west coast. Located on the shores of central Chile, it is nearest the country’s capital, Santiago. In 2002, over 87 thousand people called Puerto San Antonio home.
Before Europeans discovered the area, the site of Puerto San Antonio was home to Huechun Cacique and his people, who were fishers and farmers. In 1590, Portuguese Don Antonio Nunez de Fonseca received a grant of the lands. Nunez de Fonseca built warehouses there to store agricultural produce and seafood from the region for export to Santiago.
In 1873, the Society of the Bodegas constructed wharves and warehouses there. Construction of the modern port began in 1910, but it was 1936 before the port had an electrical plant, new warehouses, housing for workers, and facilities capable of handling large sea-going vessels.
In 1958, Chilean law granted tax exempt status to Puerto San Antonio, and in 1960 the Portuaria Compania de Chile (EMPORCHI) was given responsibility to administer, operate, and maintain the port.
In 1985, an earthquake destroyed much of the harbor infrastructure, and reconstruction began in 1992. Reconstruction was completed in 1997 after investment of $23.5 billion, and the port re-opened for business in 1998.
In 2002, Puerto San Antonio reached a new high in cargo-handling when it moved over nine million tons of cargo. In 2003, the National Ministry of Goods reserved 101 hectares of land to the south of the port for the development of the harbor. In 2005, the South Molo extension began. In 2006, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean identified Puerto San Antonio as the 8th major port in the region.