The War of the Pacific (Spanish: Guerra del Pacífico) was fought in western South America, between Chile and a united Bolivia and Peru, from 1879 through 1883. Despite cooperation among the threenations in the Chincha Islands War, disputes soon arose over the mineral-rich Peruvian provinces of Tarapaca, Tacna, and Arica, and the Bolivian province of Antofagasta. Chilean enterprises, whichlargely exploited the area, saw their interests at stake when Peru nationalized all nitrate mines in Tarapaca, and Bolivia imposed a 10-cent tax on the Antofagasta Nitrate & Railway Company. Thefoundations of the conflict were laid in Chile's strive to take control over the Bolivian part of the Atacama Desert which was rich in mineral resources and was of interest to Chile and its ally, the BritishEmpire.
The war began on February 14, 1879 when Chilean armed forces invaded Bolivia and occupied the port city of Antofagasta in response to a Bolivian threat to confiscate Chilean AntofagastaNitrate Company's property. Peru attempted to mediate, but when Bolivia announced that a state of war existed, the situation deteriorated. Bolivia called on Peru to activate their mutual defense pact,whereas Chile demanded that Peru immediately declare its neutrality. On April 5, after Peru resisted both demands, Chile declared war on both nations. The following day, Peru responded byacknowledging the casus foederis.
This "Saltpeter War" took place over five years in a variety of terrain, including the Atacama Desert and Peru's deserts and mountainous regions. The war's first battle wasthe Battle of Topáter. For most of the first year the focus was on the naval campaign, as Chile struggled to establish a sea-based resupply corridor for its forces in the world's driest desert. ThePeruvian Navy met initial success, but the Chilean Navy prevailed. Afterwards, Chile's land campaign bested the badly equipped Bolivian and Peruvian armies, leading to Bolivia's complete defeat and...
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