Copiapó was officially founded in 1744 by Don Francisco Cortés, who called it Villa San Francisco de La Selva. Originally a tambo, or resting place, it was also the spot where Diego de Almagro recuperated after his grueling journey south from Peru in 1535. In the 19th-century silver strikes solidified Copiapó's status as an important city in the region, and today most residents make their living from copper mining. The city itself is modern and prosperous, with a lovely central park lined with 100-year-old pepper trees and plenty of flower-filled avenues. You can also see the site of South America´s first train station, built in 1852, which once ran to the coastal port of Caldera.
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