Coquimbo is an important port city with a history dating back to the 16th century when it was founded by Spanish conquistadors. Positioned along the Pan-American Highway, Coquimbo is nestled in a valley located 6 miles south of La Serena, collectively forming Greater La Serena with a population exceeding 400,000 inhabitants.
The commune encompasses an area of approximately 1,429.3 km2 around the harbour. With an average temperature of around 14 °C and minimal precipitation, Coquimbo experiences a relatively mild climate.
Brief History of Coquimbo
Before the Spanish arrival, the area surrounding Coquimbo was home to indigenous communities, such as the Diaguita and Molle cultures, who were engaged in agriculture, fishing, and trade.
In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors, led by Diego de Almagro and later Francisco Pizarro, reached the Coquimbo region. The city of Coquimbo itself was established by the Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia in 1544. The Spanish aimed to strategically develop the region into a port for maritime trade.
Coquimbo’s economic prosperity centred around maritime activities, encompassing trade and shipping. The city evolved into a crucial port for exporting minerals, particularly copper and gold sourced from nearby mines. Agriculture, including the cultivation of vineyards, also played a pivotal role in the local economy.
Throughout its history, Coquimbo experienced challenges such as pirate attacks, with notorious figures like Francis Drake targeting the region. Additionally, the area is prone to earthquakes due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire, and seismic events have had a significant impact on the city.
Coquimbo, like the rest of Chile, played a role in the struggle for independence from Spanish rule in the early 19th century. The city witnessed military conflicts during this period.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Coquimbo’s economy continued to grow, fueled by mining and agriculture. The expansion of the railway network facilitated the transportation of goods, contributing to the city’s development.
Coquimbo became a cultural and educational hub with the establishment of institutions like the University of La Serena. These developments further enriched the city’s social and intellectual life.
The economy of Coquimbo has traditionally been linked to maritime activities, fishing, and trade. In recent years, tourism has also become increasingly important to the region.
In September 2023, Coquimbo recorded exports totalling $25.5 million and imports amounting to $3.4 million, yielding a favourable trade balance of $22.1 million. Over the year between September 2022 and September 2023, Coquimbo’s exports saw a growth of $2.94 million (13%), rising from $22.6 million to $25.5 million. Concurrently, imports experienced an increase of $629,000 (22.7%), climbing from $2.77 million to $3.4 million.
In 2022, Coquimbo, Chile, ranked as the 61st largest importer among the 259 importers in the country, with total imports amounting to $43.2 million.
Cities establish sister-city relationships to promote cultural understanding and cooperation. Conquimbo has twinned status with Elbląg, Poland. The cooperation agreement between Elbląg and Coquimbo was signed in 1995.
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