Bolivia Free Trade Zone

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     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.

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     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.

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