Copiapó (kōpyäpōˈ) [key], city (1990 est. pop. 79,268), capital of Atacama region, N central Chile, on the Copiapó River. An industrial city at the southern edge of the Atacama Desert, Copiapó has industries that ship and process the copper, gold, and silver of the surrounding region. The city was founded in 1540 by Pedro de Valdivia, the Spanish conqueror of Chile. It is connected to Argentina by a highway across the Andes.