Tarapaca - Encyclopedia




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TARAPACA, a northern province of Chile, bounded N. by Tacna, E. by Bolivia, S. by Antofagasta, and W. by the Pacific. Area 18,131 sq. m. Pop. (1895) 8 9,75 1; (190z, estimated) 101,105. It is part of the rainless desert region of the Pacific coast of South America, and is absolutely without water except at the base of the Andes where streams flow down into the sands and are lost. In some of these places there is vegetation and water enough to support small settlements. The wealth of Tarapaca is in its immense deposits of nitrate of soda (found on the Pampa de Tamarugal, a broad desert plateau between the coast range and the Andes, which has an elevation of about 3000 ft.). The mining and preparation of nitrate of soda for export maintain a large population and engage an immense amount of capital. Silver is mined in the vicinity of Iquique, the capital. The ports of the province are Pisagua, Iquique and Patillos, from which "nitrate railways" run inland to the deposits. Tarapaca was ceded to Chile by Peru after the war of 1879-1883, and was organized as a province in 1884.

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