Antofagasta de la Sierra Department

The Department of Antofagasta de la Sierra is located in the northwest of the province of Catamarca in northwestern Argentina and is one of the 16 administrative units in the province.

It is bordered to the north and north- east by the province of Salta, on the east by the department of Belén, to the south by the Departamento Tinogasta and to the west by Chile.

The capital of the department is the same Antofagasta de la Sierra.


Within the department there are over 200 volcanoes. The largest among them are the Antofalla, the Carachi Pampa, the Antofagasta, La Alumbrera and Galán, who has the largest caldera in the world. A pass for the considerable volcanic activity in the past are the Bimssteinfelder. Another characteristic of the department are the salt flats Salar del Hombre Muerto, such as the and the Salar de Antofalla, which is enclosed by the Sierras de Antofalla and the Sierras de Calalaste. Last applies with 163 kilometers in length and a maximum width of 12 km as the longest salt lake in the world. The zone is rich in Minerialien. In the Salar del Hombre Muerto in the north of the department of lithium is recovered. In the mine Incahuasi earlier gold was mined. Despite the extremely dry climate there are also small rivers such as the Río de los Patos and the Río Punilla, irrigated pastures. Also lagoons have formed, such as the Laguna de Antofagasta, La Laguna Alumbera ( near the town of Antofagasta de la Sierra, at the foot of the volcano ), the Laguna Blanca, Laguna Grande and Laguna Diamante.

Nature Reserves

In the department there is also the almost 1 million acre nature reserve Reserva de biosfera Laguna Blanca, where pink flamingos, foxes, Suris, vicuña and other camelids stop.


The climate in the department is due to its location on the southern edge of the Puna de Atacama rough, cold and very dry. The daily temperature fluctuations exceed 30 degrees Celsius with minimum temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. The annual rainfall below 200 millimeters.


More than 70 percent of the population of the most sparsely populated Departamento live in the Departamentshauptstadt Antofagasta de la Sierra. The nearest large settlement is 65 km south to El Peñón. Other notable settlements of low population are Paycuqui (17 kilometers north of Antofagasta de la Sierra ), Antofalla, located at the foot of the volcano, and has a little more than 40 residents and the small hamlet Incahuasi.

Cities and Towns

The Department of Antofagasta de la Sierra is divided into the following places ( Localidades ):

  • Antofagasta de la Sierra
  • El Peñón
  • Los Nacimientos
  • Antofalla

In addition, there are the following small settlements ( Parajes ) ​​:

  • Agua Caliente
  • Aguas Blancas
  • Barrialto
  • Calaste
  • Corral Grande
  • El Jote
  • Incahuasi
  • La Cortaderita
  • Laguna Grande
  • Los Colorados
  • Mariguaca
  • Paycuqui
  • Vega de la Laguna


The Department of Antofagasta de la Sierra was until 1943 the southernmost department of Gobernación de los Andes and was slammed by the resolution of the province of Catamarca.