Landlocked Countries in South America

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A country that is landlocked is one that has no direct access to the open ocean.  This means that the country is entirely surrounded by land on all sides or that any coastlines are to enclosed seas.  There are 48 countries in the world that are considered landlocked.

South America is the fourth largest continent in the world and has twelve sovereign countries and two non-sovereign areas.  Of these countries in South America there are two countries that are landlocked: Bolivia and and Paraguay. Bolivia, at 1,098,581 sq. km. (424,163 sq. mi.) is the 28th largest country in the world and is the largest landlocked country in South America.  Paraguay is 406,752 sq. km. (157,048 sq. mi.) is the 60th largest country in the world.

These two countries are the only landlocked countries outside of Afro-Eurasia (which contains the continents of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Neither Australia nor North America have any landlocked countries.

Map showing the location of Paraguay and Bolivia, the only two landlocked countries in South America.

Map showing the location of Paraguay and Bolivia, the only two landlocked countries in South America.

Bolivia once had a coastline along the Pacific Ocean but lost its coastline territory to Chile during the War of the Pacific.  That way (from 1879 to 1883) pitted Chile against Bolivia and Peru.  Chile eventually won a large amount of territory from both countries, resulting in Bolivia becoming a landlocked country.  Interestingly, Bolivia still maintains an Navy, using Lake Titicaca as its training ground.  “Dia del Mar” (Day of the Sea) is celebrated each year on March 23rd by Bolivia to mark the loss of the war and the country’s ocean access.

Map showing Bolivia and Peru's pre-war borders (shaded colors) and current borders (black line). Map: Keysanger, Wikimedia Commons.

Map showing Bolivia and Peru’s pre-war borders (shaded colors) and current borders (black line). Map: Keysanger, Wikimedia Commons.

Paraguay also maintains a Navy due to its access to the Atlantic Ocean via the Paraguay–Paraná rivers.

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