______Most countries without shorelines have given up the idea of having a navy. Bolivia is the exception, having lost its access to the ocean in 1884 but not the idea of keeping a navy.
______In 1879 Chile declared war against Peru and its ally Bolivia. Thus began the War of the Pacific, which ended with Peru and Bolivia on the losing end.
______The War of the Pacific was over nitrate mines, which also happened to be the territory Bolivia's port of Arica was located. When Chile annexed this territory it took control of the narrow strip of land connecting Bolivia to the Pacific.
______Bolivia stubbornly clung on to their navy, even though by now it was confined to a few patrol boats on Lake Titicaca, which it shares with Peru. Lake Titicaca, the highest navigatable lake in the world (at over 12,000 feet), seems an unlikely place to reestablish a navy.
______Nevertheless, the Bolivians created five naval districts (one at Lake Titicaca and four others associated with rivers). Each district has at least one flotilla. Navy headquarters is at Lake Titicaca. The Bolivians still have a naval ensign for their patrol boats and some lucky patrol boat sailors reach the rank of admiral. Bolivia even has a holiday called the Day of the Sea.
______Other countries have lost annex to the sea thanks to territorial changes brought on by war (Austria comes to mind) but none have been as stubborn as Bolivia. The unfortunate country renewed its claims to Arica (or as they call it, the Atacama Department) and the lost coastline in 1918, using the argument that their country has a navy and now it needs somewhere to put it. The Chileans told them where they could put it but did not give back Arica.
______The Bolivians still did not give up (they still had their navy, remember) and pressed the issue in 1962, leading to Chile breaking off diplomatic relations. In 1975 and 1991 new talks were opened between Bolivia and Chile regarding a possible swap of territory that would give Bolivia sea access (although what Bolivia could have possibly exchanged for it is unclear) and in 1976 talks were opened with Peru about the possibility of giving up some of its territory so that Bolivia could once again rule the waves, all to no avail.
______In 1932 Bolivia picked a fight with Paraguay over the Chaco region, at least partially out of a desire to get access to the Atlantic. If this was indeed the intention it must have been part of a long-range plan because the Chaco (indeed, NONE of Paraguay) has access to the sea either. In any case, the Chaco War also ended disasterously for Bolivia.
______The Bolivian Navy has about 3,800 personnel, which includes 2,000 Marines. It is not known how many lyrics there are in the Bolivian Marine Hymn are but I doubt there are many. The "fleet" includes dozens of boats, including some river patrol boats bought from the U.S. Indeed, river patrols seem to be an important mission of the Bolivian Navy. Bolivia has also got a couple of light patrol aircraft. The Bolivian Navy resembles a coast guard without a coast, and being prone to seasickness obviously isn't a problem if you want to join.
______The intrepid Bolivians do have a single sea-going vessel, the Libertador Bolivar, but it is kept docked in Argentina. The ship goes up and down the Plate River between Argentina and Uruguay and has apparently never been NEAR Bolivia. But that makes about as much sense as anything else in the Bolivian Navy.


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