It has a communal population of 190,716 (2006 projection, and 400,000 for the Greater La Serena) area, the country's fourth largest conurbation (pop. 300,000, 2002 census), which includes nearby Coquimbo with an area of 1,892.80 km2 (731 sq mi). It is one of the fastest-growing areas of Chile, witnessing a population increase of 32.6% between 1992 and 2002.
The city is an important tourist destination, especially during the summer, where people go to visit the beaches. It is in the headquarters of the University of La Serena and also is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of La Serena, one of five Catholic Archdioceses of the Catholic Church in Chile