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ANTOFAGASTA, a town and port of northern Chile and capital of the Chilean province of the same name, situated about 768 m. N. of Valparaiso in 23° 38′ 39″ S. lat. and 70° 24′ 39″ W. long. Pop. (est. 1902) 16,084. Antofagasta is the seaport for a railway running to Oruro, Bolivia, and is the only available outlet for the trade of the south-western departments of that republic. The smelting works for the neighbouring silver mines are located here, and a thriving trade with the inland mining towns is carried on. The town was founded in 1870 as a shipping port for the recently discovered silver mines of that vicinity, and belonged to Bolivia until 1879, when it was occupied by a Chilean military force.

The province of Antofagasta has an area of 46,611 sq. m. lying within the desert of Atacama and between the provinces of Tarapacá and Atacama. It is rich in saline and other mineral deposits, the important Caracoles silver mines being about 90 m. north-east of the port of Antofagasta. Like the other provinces of this region, Antofagasta produces for export copper, silver, 148 silver ores, lead, nitrate of soda, borax and salt. Iron and manganese ores are also found. Besides Antofagasta the principal towns are Taltal, Mejillones, Cobija (the old capital) and Tocopilla. Up to 1879 the province belonged to Bolivia, and was known as the department of Atacama, or the Litoral. It fell into the possession of Chile in the war of 1879-82, and was definitely ceded to that republic in 1885.

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