The Antofagasta region is one of the northern administrative divisions of Chile. It is mostly desert, covered by salt flats, tephra and lava flows. During the late 19th century there was a saltpeter boom. Today it is of economic interest for the giant porphyry copper systems, it is the heart of Chile's mining industry, which is the main source of export revenue. Copper, potassium nitrate, gold, iodine, and lithium are mined in huge open cast mines.
Lately the tourism increased too, interesting tourist attractions include the small town of San Pedro de Atacama, the Atacama Salt Flat, the Valley of the Moon, the Quitor Pukará, the Puritama hot springs and the numerous astronomical observatories including the Very Large Telescope and ALMA. In other words, the tourism is based on geological specialties and astronomy, a result of the high altitude and the arid climate.