Antofagasta is a port city in northern Chile, about 700 miles (1,130 km) north of Santiago. It is the capital of both Antofagasta Province and Antofagasta Region. According to the 2002 census, the city has an urban population of 281,155 and a municipal population of 296,905. The city's name comes from either a Quechua or Aymara word for "town of the great saltpeter bed."
Antofagasta is a long and narrow city located south of the Mejillones Peninsula and north of the Cerro Coloso, 700 miles (1,130 km) north of Santiago. The city is bordered on the east by steep hills that are part of Chile's Cordillera de la Costa, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.
Antofagasta lies in the Atacama Desert, which is among the Earth's driest regions. According to The Chilean Geological Magazine, annual rainfall in the city averages less than 4 mm, and there was a period of 40 years when no rain fell.
Mejillones is a small port 65 km to the north, on the northern part of Península de Mejillones. About 90 km north of Antofagasta is Hornitos, a beach that attracts both tourists and locals. Tocopilla is a coastal city 188 km north of Antofagasta. Calama, the second-largest city in the Antofagasta Region, is 213 km northeast of the regional capital. La Negra is a medium-sized industrial complex approximately 10 km south-east of Antofagasta, on the Pan-American Highway.