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La Serena


Encomendero Juan Bohón, the lieutenant of Pedro de Valdivia, founded La Serena in 1544, but the town was promptly destroyed and Bohón killed in a Diaguita uprising. His successor Francisco de Aguirre re-founded the city in 1549, but a century later poor old La Serena was razed once more, this time by British pirate Sharpe in 1680. Following Chilean independence, the city grew fat on silver and copper, supported by agriculture in the Elqui Valley. Silver discoveries were so significant that the government created an independent mint in the city.