Iquique is a major port city in northern Chile. It is located on a rocky peninsula and on the edge of Atacama Desert, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The port is protected from by low, barren offshore island (Isla Serrano) connected to mainland Chile by a stone causeway.
Established in the 16th century, the town was partially destroyed by two earthquakes - in 1868 and in 1875. Plaza Prat is in the old town's center. Nearby are located Clock Tower, Centro Espanol and Teatro Municipal. There are great beaches at Cavancha.
Iquique has population around 180,000. The city features one of the South America's largest duty-free ports - the "free zone of Iquique" (traditionally called Zofri). In this area of approx 2,4 km2 (0,9 ml2) are located banking branches, restaurants, warehouses. Copper mining is another major industry.
Atacama Desert has no rainfall and its only precipitation comes from fogs. They condense in higher regions and foster vegetation like candle-holder cacti, growing only 5-7 mm per year and flowering for 24 hours. During the nitrate boom of the 19th-20th centuries, Iquique was Chile's major export port. Today it serves mainly sea fishing and shipping of fishmeal, iodine, salt, nitrates and guano (accumulated excrement of seabirds and bats).