Ever since its early days, the area where the City of Coquimbo stands today used to be inhabited by the native moluches. Its name, “coquimbo”, means “place of calm water” in the native tongue. Undoubtedly, this was the feature that encouraged many colonists, such as Pedro de Valdivia and Juan Bouchón – founder of La Serena –, to observe the place as an ideal spot for the construction of a port.
According to some records from those days, the owner of the lands occupied today by the territory of Coquimbo was Isabel Beatriz Colla. She had inherited it. Her husband, Bernardo Álvarez de Tobar, requested a title deed for the land from the Real Audiencia, based on the marriage bond with Isabel.
Afterwards, the land was subdivided by inheritance and sales to new owners. The place appears in the logs of outstanding pirates and privateers who hit the region. In the early XIX century, Coquimbo was just a small fishermen village, but when the railway reached the area to join the copper mines to the sea, the territory became very popular and its population increased considerably.
It was not until 1850, during the administration of Manuel Bulnes, that the city layout was approved. The José Joaquín Pérez administration passed a law to create the District of Coquimbo in September 24, 1864. The municipality of Coquimbo was created in May 5, 1867, and José Joaquín Edwards Ossandón was its first mayor. It was granted the title of city in September 4, 1879, during the administration of Aníbal Pinto.
Once in the XX century, the city became consolidated as such until in 1922 it was hit by a tsunami that reached 7 m.a.s.l. and killed hundreds of people. As time passed, Coquimbo experienced the same growth as all the other important ports in Chile.
Today, as a result of its long coastline suitable for swimming and nautical sports, it is a popular summer destination in Chile.
A local legend goes that the English privateer Francis Drake left an important treasure somewhere at La Herradura Beach in Coquimbo. This story, I addition to the visits paid by other pirates during the times of the colony, has given way to an enigmatic tourist image of the region quite worth visiting indeed.