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Antofagasta (äntōfägäˈstä), city, capital of Antofagasta region, N Chile, a port on the Pacific Ocean. Antofagasta was founded by Chileans in 1870 to exploit nitrates in the Atacama Desert, then under Bolivian administration. Its occupation by Chilean troops in 1879 sparked the War of the Pacific (see Pacific, War of the), and after the war the city and province were ceded to Chile. Antofagasta has depended primarily on nitrates and copper and sulfur exports, and its economy has often been affected by sharp fluctuations in world demands. Borax and iodine are also mined. The city is an international commercial center and a major industrial hub with large foundries and ore refineries. Backed by desert hills, Antofagasta enjoys a fine climate but has little rainfall. Water is piped in from the San Pedro River, 280 mi (451 km) away. The Univ. of the North was established in Antofagasta in 1956. The city is located on the Pan-American Highway, which facilitates communication with the rest of Chile.
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