Copiap6, a city of Chili, capital of the province of Atacama, on the right bank of a river of the same name, about 30 m. from its mouth, 425 m. N. of Santiago; pop. about 15,000. It is the centre of the most important mining district of Chili. The town is regularly laid out, with a large plaza, four long streets and about 20 smaller ones crossing at right angles. At the E. end is a suburb occupied by the poorer classes, and the W. end is composed of elegant villas with beautiful gardens. In consequence of the frequency of earthquakes, the houses are of slight construction, being built mostly of wood covered with mud and lime. So little rain falls that this is sufficient for protection, and even the principal church is built in this way. The only solid edifice in the city is an old church, the massive walls of which have enabled it to withstand the most violent earthquakes. In the plaza is a bronze statue of Juan Godoy, who discovered the celebrated silver mines of Chafiarcillo in 1832. Copiapo has a college and several convents. Among its industrial establishments are a number of works for the reduction of silver ore, iron founderies, and factories for the making of crushing mills and other machinery used in connection with the mines.
It has a considerable trade through its port, Caldera, with which it is connected by railway. Its old port, the village of Copiapo, at the mouth of the river, lat. 27° 20' S., and lon. 71° 2' W., is now little used.