1884: Bolivia Once had Sea Access

1884: Bolivia Once had Sea Access
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ A naval battle during the War of the Pacific

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 4 April 1884
  • Bolivia had access to the sea up to this day in the year 1884. That area was lost in favor of Chile, which was damaging not only in terms of traffic, but also in terms of natural resources.

On this day in 1884 Bolivia signed a peace treaty with neighboring Chile, in which it lost its access to the sea.

Namely, Bolivia earlier had access to the sea near the town of Antofagasta on the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, Bolivia owned a substantial part of the territory of the well-known Atacama desert (now part of Chile). If we count the Bolivian lands in the area of the Amazon basin and in today’s Paraguay, Bolivia once had a nearly two times larger territory than today.

Bolivia was cut off from the sea during the so-called War of the Pacific, in which it, together with Peru, waged war against Chile.

Boundaries before and after the War of the Pacific

Since the Chilean forces were winning, Bolivia, in order to end the war, was forced to relinquish the control of the coastline to Chile. That way, Bolivia lost an important area, not only in terms of traffic (such as access to the sea), but also in terms of natural resources.

Namely, the coastal area around Antofagasta is today’s most important mining area in Chile. Once, it was an important site of the gathering of saltpeter (nitrate salts important for the chemical industry) collected in layers of bird droppings (the so-called guano).

Today, the world’s largest copper mines are located in this region. It is an incredible fact is that around 9.5% of the world’s annual copper production is extracted in a single mine in the nearby area, Escondido. That mine reportedly provides an annual income of up to $10 billion.

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