Taltal is a Chilean commune and city in Antofagasta Province, Antofagasta Region. According to the 2012 census, the commune has a population of 11,132 and has an area of 20,405.1 km2 (7,878 sq mi).[2] The commune is home to Paranal Observatory and includes the northern portion of Pan de Azúcar National Park.

Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Map of Taltal commune in Antofagasta Region
Map of Taltal commune in Antofagasta Region
Location in Chile
Location in Chile
Location in Chile
Coordinates: 25°17′S 69°46′W / 25.283°S 69.767°W / -25.283; -69.767Coordinates: 25°17′S 69°46′W / 25.283°S 69.767°W / -25.283; -69.767
Country Chile
Region Antofagasta
Established12 July 1858
 • TypeMunicipality
 • AlcaldeSergio Belmor Orellana Montejo (PRSD)
 • Total20,405.1 km2 (7,878.5 sq mi)
2,098 m (6,883 ft)
 (2012 Census)[2]
 • Total11,132
 • Density0.55/km2 (1.4/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Rural
 • Men6,182
 • Women4,918
Time zoneUTC−4 (CLT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−3 (CLST)
Area code(s)56 + 55
WebsiteMunicipality of Taltal


The etymological origin of the name is the indigenous word Thalthal, which means “night bird.”[3]


The history of Taltal begins with the opening of the copper mine "El Cobre" by José Antonio Moreno in 1850 about 20 kilometers north of Taltal. This brought miners and prospectors to the area. In 1855 Moreno expanded his operations to include Taltal.[4] The discovery of copper in 1858 on nearby Mount Cachiyuyal increased pressure on the port, which had to utilize customs officials from Copiapo. So Moreno requested official recognition of the port which was granted by decree[5] on 12 July 1858.[4]

However, the real boom began in 1876 with the opening of nitrate mines, in particular potassium nitrate.[4] In 1879, the first nitrates were shipped from the area.[6] In 1882 a railway was completed from Cachinal de la Sierra and other nitrate mining sites. It was built by the "Taltal Railway Company", a British company, sold to private investors in 1954, and dismantled in 1970 due to the end of nitrate mining. At the peak of production in the 1930s, Taltal had a population of over 30,000 and was the third largest nitrate port in Chile.[4]


According to the 2002 census of the National Statistics Institute, Taltal had 11,000 inhabitants (6,182 men and 4,918 women). Of these, 9,564 (86%) lived in urban areas and 1,536 (14%) in rural areas. The population grew by 2.3% (11,148 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses.[2]


As a commune, Taltal is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde who is directly elected every four years. The 2008-2012 alcalde is Guillermo Hidalgo Ocampo.[1]

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Taltal is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Mr. Pedro Araya (PRI) and Mr. Manuel Rojas (UDI) as part of the 4th electoral district, (together with Antofagasta, Mejillones and Sierra Gorda). The commune is represented in the Senate by Carlos Cantero Ojeda (Ind.) and José Antonio Gómez Urrutia (PRSD) as part of the 2nd senatorial constituency (Antofagasta Region).


  • Llullaillaco National Park is an area of 268,670 ha protected by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF). It lies in the Andes at an altitude of between 3,000 and 6,700 meters, and includes the Llullaillaco Volcano (6,739 meters), Cerro de la Pena Mountain (5260 m) and Cerro Aguas Calientes Mountain (5,060 m). The park is home to vicuñas and guanacos, with the highest population density of these species in the region. The park is part of the protected area of the Montano Desert that lies in the Cordillera Domeyko the desert steppe and the Andean salt flats.
  • Paranal Observatory, located on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, 110 km north of the city and administered by the European Southern Observatory. Soon the commune will also be home to the E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope) to be located on Cerro Armazones, 20 kilometers east of Cerro Paranal.
  • Cifuncho bay, located 30 km south of Taltal. With an extensive and beautiful beach of white sand and turquoise water, it is considered one of the five most beautiful beaches in Chile.[7]
  • El Medano canyon, located 90 kilometres north of Taltal, is one of the most important sites to observe cave paintings in the northern coast of Chile. This paintings are the remains of an extinct culture called the Chango people, who drew their experiences of hunting guanacos, sea lions and whales. It is believed that the paintings are between 500 and 1,000 years old.
  • Caleta Paposo () is 54 km north of Taltal. It was once a mining centre and was inhabited by the pre-Hispanic Chango people. Surrounded by pastures irrigated by moisture coming off the sea, the area has a very rich flora and fauna and was once a border between Chile and Bolivia in the nineteenth century.

Architectural heritageEdit

The city of Taltal contains many houses that are registered in the Inventory of Cultural Heritage Properties in Chile. Highlights include the Alhambra Theatre (1921), the Augusto Capdeville Museum (1885), the railroad houses (1886), the Plaza Hotel (1898), houses in the downtown area, the (which was completely devastated by a fire in January 2007 but is now rebuilt) and the Protestant church (1896).

Taltal wind farmEdit

The company Enel Green Power has begun the construction of the new Taltal Wind Farm, which will be located in the commune of Taltal, Chile, approximately 1,500 kilometers north of Santiago, the Chilean capital. The project will require a total investment of $190 million US dollars and will produce a total of 99 megawatts (MW). It will have 33 windmills, making it the biggest wind farm in Chile.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Municipality of Taltal" (in Spanish). Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e "National Statistics Institute" (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  3. ^ Diccionario Geográfico de la República de Chile (1899) página 790
  4. ^ a b c d "Taltal: Un puerto nacido del empuje" (in Spanish). Municipalidad de Taltal. Archived from the original on 25 July 2013.
  5. ^ Decreto Supremo Nº 91 signed by Chilean President Manuel Montt Torres.
  6. ^ "Caleta Oliva, Un Hito Histórico" (in Spanish). Municipalidad de Taltal. 23 June 2008. Archived from the original on 11 August 2015.
  7. ^ CIFUNCHO La Belleza Naturalmente Atractiva de Taltal Archived 14 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine www.taltal.cl retrieved 1 September 2013

External linksEdit