Rosset by the owners of the mines Patiño, Aramayo, Hochschild as well as other politicians and generals ruled modern life as part of the trade in tin. The interests of English imperialism in the saltpet of Antofagasta and in the oil in the south triggered two brother wars on the South American continent. First the Pacific War 1879-83 with Chile against Peru and Bolivia and then the Chaco War in 1932-35 with Paraguay against Bolivia.
From the mid-1800’s, Chilean interests had established themselves in the extraction of natural altars in the desert areas of the Bolivian province of Atacama and the Peruvian province of Tarapaca. The Chilean companies worked under concessions issued by the Peruvian and Bolivian authorities, and were financially supported – and often also controlled – by British capital.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of BOL in general and in geography as Bolivia in particular.
Bolivia is shrinking
In 1878, Bolivia decided to impose a new tax on Chilean exports of Atacama carpets over the port city of Antofagasta. This led to conflict between the two states, and in 1879 Chilean troops conquered Antofagasta. It was the prelude to the Pacific War, where Bolivia was supported by Peru, yet had to capitulate to the Chilean forces in 1880. Peru continued the war, but had to capitulate in 1883 after the Chilean forces conquered the capital Lima. Peru had to relinquish the Tarapacá province, and Bolivia had to relinquish the province of Atacama by the ceasefire agreement in 1884. Chile – and thus the British capital interests – thereby consolidated their full control over the profitable salt extraction. The Chilean carpenter was part of the foundations for streamlining North America and Europe’s agriculture under itindustrial revolution that was in full swing at that time. Only in 1904 was a peace agreement signed between Chile and Bolivia, where Bolivia formally renounced the area, thus losing its access to the sea. The demand for reconstruction of the lost coastal area and access to the sea (“salida al mar”) has later become the pervasive theme of Bolivian politics, and has been used by changing rulers to direct attention away from the country’s internal problems.
Twenty years after the Pacific War defeat, Bolivia lost another part of its territory, this time in the Amazon. Here, Brazilian rubber producers had started rubber mining in the jungle, and after Bolivian authorities tried to control their business, the Brazilians in 1899 declared the Acre area independent and asked Brazil to take it over. In 1903, Bolivia formally recognized this Brazilian conquest.
European capital in the field
From around the turn of the century, foreign capital – first British and German, later North American – was heavily invested in Bolivia’s mines. In the past, silver was the most important mining product, but eventually tin became the most important. Especially after cans were introduced as packaging in the food industry. Three mining magnates dominated the production of tin for the canning industry of Europe and North America. Two were Bolivian – Simón Patino and Carlos Aramayo – and one was Argentinian born in Austria, Mauricio Hochschild. Tin extraction peaked in the 1920’s, and Patino became one of the world’s richest men. The three “tin barons” just recovered the metal in Bolivia. Instead, smelting and refining industries were built up in North America and Europe, along with British and North American interests.
In 1922, Standard Oil of New Jersey (Exxon/Esso) received the first oil concession in Southeast Bolivia. In this area, Bolivia was to wage a small victorious war – this time against neighboring Paraguay – over the lands of the Chacol offshore (the Chaco War 1932-35).
Both North American and European oil companies were interested in this area and supported “their” own governments. The war led Paraguay to take control of most of the disputed territory after 50,000 Bolivians and 35,000 Paraguayans lost their lives in the fighting.
According to CountryAAH, the population of Bolivia in 2019 was 11,512,989, ranking number 81 in the world. The population growth rate was 1.410% yearly, and the population density was 10.6278 people per km2.