Coquimbo is a port city and capital of the Elqui Province, located on the Pan-American Highway, in the Coquimbo Region of Chile. Coquimbo lies in a valley 10 km south of La Serena, with which it forms Greater La Serena with more than 400,000 inhabitants. The average temperature in the city lies around 14° C, and precipitation is sparse.
The natural harbor in Coquimbo was taken over by Pedro de Valdivia from Spain in 1550. The gold and copper industry in the region led to the city's importance as a port around 1840 and many Europeans especially from England settled in Coquimbo. In 1867, it was recognized as a town. It is currently undergoing a process of urban renewal initiated by its mayor, Pedro Velasquez.
The city itself, a gritty industrial and shipping center, is growing quickly, registering a 32.8% growth rate from 1992 to 2002. The population, according to the 2002 Chilean census, was 154,316, with 8,720 people living in the countryside surrounding the city for a total of 163,036 inhabitants of the comuna.
Tourism has started to develop recently. It is an access point for popular beach towns to the south, such as Guanaqueros and Tongoy. The port is still important for shipping, especially fruit and copper from mines in the region. Wine is also grown in the region.