Mineral Connections

Everywhere are reminders of the precious metal: copper statues, copper wall-etchings and reliefs, and even a copper-plated spire on the cathedral. In 2004 the city also began to inherit a wave of copper refugees when the entire population of polluted mining town Chuquicamata relocated here, a process that was completed in 2007.

The city's short history is inextricably tied to that of Chuquicamata. It's a measure of Calama's relative youth that it did not acquire its cathedral until 1906 – until then, it was ecclesiastically subordinate to tiny Chiu Chiu.