Copiap� is a city in northern Chile, located about 40 miles east of the coastal town of Caldera. Founded on December 8, 1744, it is the capital of Copiap� Province and Atacama Region.
Copiap� lies about 800 km north of Santiago by the Copiap� River, in the valley of the same name. In recent years, the river has dried up. The town is surrounded by the Atacama Desert and receives little rain (12 mm per year). The population of Copiap� was 9,128 in 1903, 11,617 in 1907 and, as of 2002, there are 129,091 inhabitants.
Copiap� is in a rich silver and copper mining district. It possesses a bronze statue of Juan Godoy, discoverer of the Cha�arcillo silver mines in the 19th century. The Copiap�-Caldera railway line, built in 1850, was the first one in South America. The first section between Caldera and Monte Amargo was inaugurated on July 4 of 1850 in honour of the nationality of William Wheelwright, the American business man responsible for the project. The original wooden railway station is now a National Monument