Cobija, Or Puerto La Mar, the only seaport town of Bolivia, capital of the department of Atacama or Cobija, on the Pacific coast, in lat. 22° 32' 50" S., lon. 70° 17' 5" W., 365 m. S. W. of Potosi. The town is on the beach, at the foot of a range of high hills. On a point jutting into the sea is a small fort, mounting five or six guns. The harbor affords good anchorage, but landing is difficult on account of the surf. Eftbrts have been made to improve it of late by the erection of a mole. The town is a wretched place, composed of a few wooden houses, the principal of which are on a street running N. and S. along the shore. Water is scarce and of poor quality. The port is free, and is much visited by vessels of various nations, as it is the chief outlet for the exports of the country, and through it the southern provinces are supplied with foreign commodities. The only road from the seacoast to the interior in Bolivia is that from this port to Oruro, and it is constantly traversed by beasts of burden, bringing coin, bullion, ore, and other products from the interior, and carrying imported goods inland. A railway to Potosi has been planned, and if built will add greatly to the prosperity of the place, which is dependent on the mines.
These mines, which are chiefly of silver and copper, are mostly in the hands of English capitalists, who import everything used by them. - Until 1829 Cobija was a mere fishing village, inhabited by Indians. It was made a free port in that year, and in 1839 it became the capital of the department. In 1855 it had a population of about 600, which had grown in 1858, in consequence of increased activity in mining, to 2,300. It has now about 2,500 permanent residents and a floating population of as many more. In official documents the town is called Puerto la Mar.