Tacna: Battle of Alliance Heights

09:36 NovataSL 2 Comments

Alliance Heights (Tacna)

Why the 28th of August is important to Peru:

The War of the Pacific was a brutal campaign and was fought by Chile, Peru and Bolivia in 1879 to 1883 and this war started over many issues but tensions spiraled out of control over sodium nitrate deposits, an important mineral that was important in trade, and a the Antofagasta region that was once part of Bolivia contained a large deposit of sodium nitrate. 
Now there was always some disagreement with the boarders between the countries that would eventually fight but another important element in this was tax especially between Bolivia and Chile on the mines that existed in the region. Tensions only increased in the region as in 1873 Peru and Bolivia signed a secret alliance and Chile was only informed by Argentina who got to know about this because Peru and Bolivia offered them to join this alliance however, they never joined. The amounting tensions eventually lead to the occupation of Antofagasta by Chilean forces in 1878 and this lead to diplomatic talks that failed completely between the countries, the secret alliance then would mean Peru would have to defend its ally Bolivia in the event of war, Chile advised Peru to remain neutral but Peru honoured the alliance and refused. 
At the early stages of the war it seemed the conditions were favourable to Peru and Bolivia and they won a string of victories however, due to many factors like politics and outside intervention especially with financial help (weapons and money was sent from Europe to Chile) Peru and Bolivia were eventually pushed back. The first major defeat was the Battle of Arica and Tacna in 1880 which also ended the involvement of Bolivia for the remainder of the war.

Peru continued to fight and refused surrender but resistance was often futile often poorly equipped soldiers and poorly maintained weapons were used against the highly trained and well equipped soldiers of Chile. Bolivia also encouraged Peru to fight even though the Bolivian army was now incapable of fighting at this point and the country was facing financial ruin.
The next major defeats for Peru were the loss of Chorrillos and Miraflores some of the last lines of defense and on January 17, 1881 the Chilean army entered Lima and occupied it. Fighting then took another turn as the fighting then moved into the highlands and became a guerrilla war. In June 1884 the Treaty of Ancón was officially signed and ended the war, the war claimed over 20,000 dead or wounded. 
In this treaty Peru lost Tarapacá to Chile but while Tacna and Arica was occupied by Chile in the treaty these two regions would be given a vote 10 years after the signing of the Treaty of Ancón this however failed due to the fact that neither country could agree on the terms on which the vote would take place until the intervention by the President of the USA Herbert Hoover who oversaw the Treaty of Lima which gave Arica to Chile and Tacna would be given back to Peru.

This was signed on June 3, 1929 over 45 years after the war had ended and Tacna was officially reinstated back to Peru on the 28th of August 1929. So every 28th of August there is a parade in Tacna and the flag of Peru is carried through the streets and to the main square. 
Tacna is seen as a heroic city this is because as many Peruvian would tell you, the fighting spirit they had and the love of their homeland meant they never surrendered to the will of the Chilean forces and always claimed to be Peruvian. 
Now with Bolivia, they lost all access to the sea and now as you can see on the map they are a landlocked country they still dispute the land-sea border to this day. 

You can now visit the Alto de la Alianza monument (Alliance Heights, Tacna) that marks the place of the crucial battle that took place there; there is also a graveyard that is close by where 600 anonymous Peruvian, Bolivian and Chilean soldiers were laid to rest.


  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

  2. Thank you for your comment :) I tried to do my best to share history and important facts about Peru! Hope you can find some other interesting articles here!