Humberstone and Santa Laura’s Abandonment

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works2005

UNESCO World Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage

Following the First World War, growing competition from recently developed artificial saltpeter resulted in a gradual decline of the nitrate’s commercialisation. Being Chile’s major exporter, this situation had a severe impact on the country’s economy and led to the progressive closure of the Saltpeter Works. This triggered dramatic unemployment, poverty increase, as well as the migration of thousands of men to the central and southern parts of the country.
The Santa Laura and Humberstone offices were not an exception. After their final closure in 1960, their last inhabitants abandoned the sites. In the following decades, their buildings and infrastructure started deteriorating: they were partially dismantled and their movable parts –such as signposts, door frames and furniture – were looted.


  • Title: Humberstone and Santa Laura’s Abandonment
  • Creator: Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works
  • Date Created: 2005
  • Location Created: Chile
  • Rights: Jorge López, SNPC
  • Location: Chile
  • Inscription Criteria: Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
  • Date of Inscription: 2005
  • Category of Site: List of World Heritage in Danger

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