Many South American
countries won their independence from Spanish rule in the nineteenth
century. Boundary disagreements between the newly independent nations
have been common. Bolivia achieved independence August 2, 1825 and has
been involved in border disputes with Peru, Brazil, Chile and
Paraguay. As a result Bolivia has lost approximately half of its
original territory, as well as its access to the Pacific Ocean.
The Bolivian stamp shows Bolivia's territorial claims to the
Antofagasta costal area from a British map of 1876.
The discovery of rich
nitrate deposits in the Atacama desert and rising border tensions led
to the outbreak of war between Chile and Bolivia (1879-1883), in which
Peru participated on the side of Bolivia. Chile's victory in this war
resulted in Bolivia's loss of its outlet to the Pacific.
Peru also lost territory in the war with Chile, but
the Peruvian Congress decided to give Bolivia a free trade zone in the
southern port of Ilo. Bolivia has a three-mile stretch of Peruvian
coast to maintain a port, and receive duty free imports for shipment
to La Paz. Bolivia continues to hope that Chile will return some of
the lost coastline to Bolivia in the future.
The map shows the route from La Paz, across Peru to Ilo
on the Pacific Coast.