History, Liberal Rule and Foreign Wars
Tacna, Chilean government, new railroad, plebiscite, postal system
Divisions resulting from disagreements with the Roman Catholic Church had taken place, meanwhile, within the Conservative Party. Beginning in 1861 its liberal wing, in coalition with the Liberal Party, instituted a number of constitutional reforms, including prohibition of consecutive presidential terms. Endeavors to promote public welfare and the further development of national resources were intensified, notably by new railroad and highway projects and the creation of a postal system. In 1865 Chile became embroiled in a Spanish-Peruvian war that continued sporadically until 1869.
Chilean interests subsequently began the exploitation of the immensely valuable nitrate deposits in the Atacama Desert. Rejecting Bolivian claims to the region, the Chilean government in February 1879 ordered its military forces into the Bolivian port of Antofagasta. Two months later Peru, an ally of Bolivia, declared war on Chile, precipitating the War of the Pacific. As a result of its victory in this conflict, terminated in 1883, Chile acquired considerable territory, including the province of Antofagasta from Bolivia and the province of Tarapaca from Peru. Peru also yielded Tacna and Arica to Chile, on condition that after ten years a plebiscite be held. Although the two countries failed to agree on conditions for a plebiscite, disposition of the disputed areas was achieved in 1928 by negotiation, Tacna becoming a possession of Peru and Arica going to Chile.
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