At the intersection of the Camino del Inca (the longitudinal one) and the routes that crossed the coast of the Altiplano, Calama became the main shelter of the Despoblado of Atacama.
The greater dispute concentrated in the central prairie and in the coast, where they began to discover rich silver deposits, saltpeter, and guano.The ambiguity that led to the frontier conflicts was the possession of the central plain and the Atacama coast.The western boundary of the town of Calama is marked by the peaks of the foothills, which occurs north of Calama in the foothills of the Loa River, which has many names, from north to south: Sierra Moreno, Cerros Chuquicamata Cerros de Montecristo.The Cerro Poquis (4,589 m), is the maximum altitude, north of Chuquicamata.In 1888, under the government of José Manuel Balmaceda, Calama returned as an administrative center of 3° order, inaugurated as the municipality on 13 October.
Prior to that, in 1886, Calama was chosen for a railway station of the Antofagasta-Bolivia Railway, which further expedited shipments through Calama.
In this sense, Calama continued as a main point of provision for commercial routes.
In the 18th century, with the Bourbon Reforms, Calama depended directly of the Intendencia de Potosí.
The environment was made tense when Chilean troops, under the command of colonel Emilio Sotomayor Baeza, invaded the port of Antofagasta on the morning of February 14, 1879. Since that day, the changes in the administration have been very deep.
It being part of the administrative center of 2° order in Bolivia, returned as one of 4° order under the Chilean administration (subdelegation).
Until the middle of the 20th century, the urban site of Calama and the surrounding oasis were flanked by the River Loa on two sides, and the fertile plain and swamps on the other sides, giving the location the appearance of an island in the middle of the desert surrounded completely by water.