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Tocopilla is a city and commune in the Antofagasta Region, in the north of Chile. It is the capital of the province that bears the same name.

Tocopilla celebrates its anniversary on September 29 every year with a big show the day before which includes a parade down the main street of the city, food and a fireworks display at midnight.

The city is divided into two main parts consisting of the central city and smaller portion known as La Villa Sur. The two parts are divided by the thermoelectric power plant and a large saltpeter processing and shipping plant, but the coastal highway connects the two portions. In La Villa Sur larger, more luxurious homes are to be found.

The larger northern portion of Tocopilla is home to the municipal buildings, the central plaza, and a large number of locally owned stores and shops. The steep grade of the city from beach to vertical hillside is covered in houses and apartments crammed together to save space. A large artificial beach is the main attraction during summer months and serves as a focus away from the heat of the Atacama. On the north side of the city, there is a black sand beach.

Tocopilla is also the birthplace of renowned artist Alejandro Jodorowsky and a promising football star Alexis Sanchez.


Tocopilla means "the devil's corner". Despite this it is believed that the city's previous names included Caleta Duendes ("Goblin's Cove") or Quebrada Honda ("Deep Ravine").

2007 earthquake

On 14 November 2007, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake occurred 40 km (25 miles) east-southeast of Tocopilla, followed by aftershocks of magnitude up to 6.8. As a consequence, 1,200 homes were destroyed in Tocopilla, leaving 4,000 of its 27,000 inhabitants homeless. There were two fatalities, and at least 115 were injured. Despite the government's efforts to provide immediate help, there were some problems with the delivery of food in the first two days. Those were later resolved and a larger plan of cleaning and reconstruction started.


This city generates electricity to the entire II Region and is, therefore, known as "the city of energy". When saltpeter exportation in Chile was at its highest point, this port was especially significant as an export point. Nowadays, even when the saltpeter is not so profitable, Tocopilla is still home to companies focused on its extraction.

Its position along the coast allows it to have an active fishing activity, that along with the mining activity are the main resources. It is a fishing port, with fishmeal and canned fish factories. Through its port the copper from Chuquicamata and saltpeter from El Toco are exported. Tocopilla has metallurgic, chemical and nitrate treatment industries, along with the power plant. Due to these activities, Tocopilla is a dormitory city, since many people work outside the city.

Tocopilla is located in the middle of three big development poles: Iquique, Antofagasta and Calama. For long time there was a project to transform Barriles into an industrial area, trying to concentrate all factories and industries that are adjacent to the city; especially those located further away in Maria Elena and Pedro de Valdivia Offices, but so far there is a lack of interest to move to a place so far from urban areas.

New Year's Eve Traditions

As part of the New Year celebrations, people in the city celebrate the rite of purification by burning the bad mementos from the old year in order to have a better year. It has become a tradition, supported by the City Hall, to have pieces of art burnt at midnight.


In Tocopilla, baseball is played. Communal teams have won more than half the National Championships from the Chilean Baseball Federation, some of them consecutively.

Other two important sports are volleyball, with relative success at school and federated level and soccer with a number of players that have gone to bigger clubs.

External links

Tocopilla on line in Spanish

Prensatocopilla in Spanish

You Tube Music Video: Director : Christian Pena

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Tocopilla

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