Pacific War of 1879–83

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pacific War of 1879–83


a war between Chile on one side and Peru and Bolivia on the other. It was provoked by Chile’s attempt to seize the large deposits of nitrates in the Peruvian and Bolivian zones of the Atacama Desert, areas that were being exploited by the Chilean Antofagasta Nitrate Company.

In February 1879, Chile attacked Bolivia, and in April the war expanded when Peru, which had a mutual assistance treaty with Bolivia, entered the conflict. By the end of the year, the Chileans had occupied the entire Bolivian coast and the Peruvian province of Tarapacá; in June 1880, Chile controlled the entire Atacama and in January 1881 took the Peruvian capital of Lima. Great Britain, which in 1880 had obtained from Chile a monopoly right to export nitrates, actively supported Chile. The USA, attempting to strengthen its position in the area, promised support to Peru and Bolivia.

In July 1883 the Chileans inflicted two more defeats on the Peruvians, compelling them to sign a treaty conveying Tarapacá to Chile forever and the cities of Tacna and Arica for ten years (in 1929, Tacna was returned to Peru). In 1884, Bolivia signed a truce, depriving it of access to the Pacific through the province of Antofagasta; the peace treaty that confirmed these terms was signed in 1904.


Smolenskii, V. “SShA i Tikhookeanskaia voina 1879–1884.” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia, 1967, no. 3.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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