Iquique (Spanish pronunciation: [iˈkike], ee-KEE-kay) is a port city and commune in northern Chile, capital of both the Iquique Province and Tarapacá Region. It lies on the Pacific coast, west of the Pampa del Tamarugal which is part of Atacama Desert. It had a population of 180,601 according to the 2012 census. It is also the main commune of the Greater Iquique. The city developed during the heyday of the saltpetre mining in Atacama Desert in the 19th century. Originally a Peruvian city with a large Chilean population it was ceded to Chile as result of War of the Pacific (1879–1883). Today it is one of only two free ports of Chile.