Between 1879 and 1883, the War of the Pacific, also known as War of Saltpeter, War of Guano or War of the 10 cents, developed. In it there were sides that clashed: Chile against the allied nations Peru and Bolivia .
However, Great Britain became the big winner of the conflict , since after the Chilean victory, British companies took control of the extraction of minerals in Tarapacá.
Background and armed conflict
Peru, Bolivia and Chile explored the trade in saltpeter, a very appreciated substance as it serves as a fertilizer and is used in the manufacture of gunpowder. The Chilean government proposed to the Bolivian the exploitation of saltpeter in exchange for receiving a tax , and Bolivia accepted the proposal. However, Bolivia feared that Chile would remain in absolute control of saltpeter and for this reason made a secret and defensive alliance with Peru in 1873. War of the Pacific
The objective of the alliance between Peru and Bolivia was to impose new borders between Chile and Bolivia, since both nations disagreed about the limits of their territory .
Finally, in 1878, the Bolivian government raised taxes by ten cents per garden of saltpeter, but Chile refused to pay.
Faced with this border conflict and for the control of saltpeter, in February 1879 Chile sent troops to occupy the Bolivian territory of Antofagasta (the Chilean army had the financial and logistical support of the British).
Bolivia reacted with a dual strategy: the declaration of war against Chile and a military alliance with Peru.
The Chilean response was immediate declaring war on both Bolivia and Peru, thus initiating the War of the Pacific.
The war began with naval battles and later continued with land battles. After bloody battles, Chile seized the coast of Antofagasta and Bolivia lost its way to the sea. War of the Pacific
During the war, Chile regained control of saltpeter and this circumstance made the country’s economic conditions permit the continuation of armed confrontation. Chilean troops were gradually imposing themselves in both Bolivian and Peruvian territory (the Chilean army even occupied the city of Lima for two years).
The consequences of the conflict are still present.
Chilean military rule ended with the Treaty of Ancón in 1883. The direct consequences of the War of the Pacific were as follows:
1) Peru lost the territory of Tarapacá and Arica and in exchange Chilean troops abandoned the city of Lima.
2) Bolivia lost a maritime province that included the ports of Antofagasta and Cobija, traumatizing society as a whole . War of the Pacific
3) Chile expanded its territories by up to 180,000 square kilometers.
4) The control of mineral deposits acquired by Chile ended up in the hands of British companies (for some historians, Great Britain was the real winner of the Pacific War).
5) Peru began a period of political instability leading to a civil war.
Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the Chilean and Bolivian governments continue to express their disagreements regarding the consequences of the War in the Pacific. War of the Pacific