The Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter offices that were declared World Heritage sites in 2005 are on the list of Wealth in danger.
Humberstone and Santa Laura are among the eight assets that are currently at risk in Latin America. This means that they are in danger and that they can easily disappear due to natural causes or damage caused by human beings such as fires and / or destruction.
Humberstone and Santa Laura meant the era of "white gold" for Chile, with the exploitation of saltpeter in the 19th century. The success was due to the consolidation of a system called Shanks that allowed improving the volume of production. This increased not only the number of people who came to work but also the foreign investment.
In total, there were 200 extraction points, connected to a modern railway system. UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 2005, because it is the testimony of an important technological progress and part of a very significant industrial age for both Chile and the world. From here, the largest saltpeter in the world, sodium nitrate, was extracted and gave our country a wealth.
The town of Humberstone, now completely abandoned, has more than 3,500 inhabitants. Today you can visit in a full day tour from Iquique where you can tour the town, its houses, the main square, the theater and many other places.
It is important to mention that if you are going to take a trip to these places, take care of the architecture, and respect the establishments that cannot be touched and only walk through streets that are signposted.