Litoral Department

Not to be confused with Littoral Department.
Flag from Bolivian Litoral Department

The Department of Litoral, commonly known as the Bolivian coast, was the description of the extent of the Pacific coast of the Atacama desert included in the territory of Bolivia from its inception in 1825 until 1879, when it was lost to Chile.


When Bolivia emerged in 1825 as an independent state, these territories were part of the Bolivian Potosí Department. During the government of Andrés de Santa Cruz, the territories were established as the department of Litoral.

The main towns on the Pacific coast, from north to south, were Tocopilla, Cobija, Calama, Mejillones and Antofagasta.

The port of Paposo was taken from the colony as the capital of the coast Atacameño. After it consolidated its independence, Chile executed various acts of sovereignty on the northern desert coast. It established its territory throughout the coast to the mouth of the river Loa, forming a border with Peru. Chile would have expanded more, but this was prevented by the establishment of Cobija, a Bolivian city.


Borders before the war

The treaty of 1866 established the border between the two States on the parallel 24°, creating an area of common interests between 23 and 25 degrees south latitude.

The treaty of 1874, which established the final boundary between the two nations the parallel 24°, provided that for a period of 25 years, new taxes shall not be imposed on the Chilean people and companies based in the area.

Chile was willing to move down the coast from the desert to allow Bolivia a sovereign outlet to the ocean, under the conditions seen before. This eliminated the area of common interest from the treaty of 1866.

Bolivia and Peru, bound by a secret treaty of defensive alliance since 1873 (one year before the border treaty with Chile), were defeated by Chile in the War of the Pacific which lasted until 1884, losing the Bolivian coast and Peruvian department Tarapacá. Though the coast was a valuable source of saltpeter, it was not the casus belli.


Since then, Bolivia retains the policy of a territorial claim of a sovereign outlet to the Pacific Ocean. As part of this policy, the national coat of arms shows 10 stars: 9 of the current departments, plus the Bolivian coast.

The internal communications of the armed forces carried the slogan in the footnotes: "The sea is our right. To recover it is a must."

Also in Santa Cruz, for choosing beauty contests, as well as Miss Santa Cruz, Miss Litoral.

See also

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