Tacna Province (Chile)

The Tacna Province was a territorial division of Chile that existed between 1884 and 1929. It was ceded by the Treaty of Ancón in 1883 and placed under military administration, and then created on the 31st of October 1884, incorporating the former Peruvian provinces of Tacna and Arica of the also former Tacna Department, as well as a contested claim over Tarata, and was returned to Peru at midnight on the 28th of August 1929, under the terms agreed upon in the Treaty of Lima of the same year.

Tacna Province
Provincia de Tacna
Province of Chile
Flag of Tacna Province
Tacna province (1884-1929) Chile location map.svg
DemonymTacneño, a
• 1903
Historical eraWar of the Pacific aftermath
20 October 1883
• Established
31 October 1883
3 June 1929
28 August 1929
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Tarapacá Department
Tarata Province
Arica Province
Tacna Department
Tacna Department
Tarapacá Province
Today part of Peru


Map showing the Tacna-Arica dispute and its solution.

The province was first established on October 31, 1883 by a law promulgated by President Domingo Santa María which defined its limits as the Sama River to the north, the Quebrada de Camarones to the south, the Andes mountain range to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.[4] This was under the conditions of Treaty of Ancón, by means of which Chile achieved dominion over the Tarapacá Department, and possession of the provinces of Tacna and Arica for a decade, after which a plebiscite was to be held in 1894 to determine the region's sovereignty, however, it was never carried out.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] The provisional legal organization would end up working for 50 years, until 1929. During its early years, resistance was at its peak, with some Peruvian military personnel organizing guerrillas, such as Gregorio Albarracín's, of about a hundred men, which were defeated in battle in 1882, with Albarracín and his son being killed in action.[13]

On December 26, 1908, half of Arica, then in the Province of Tacna, was destroyed by an earthquake. The city, as well as the region, were similarly affected by the much stronger earthquake in Valparaíso that happened just a couple of months prior, as well as its aftershocks.[2][3]

In 1885 Chile integrated Tarata into the province, becoming in 1911 the Tarata Department, under the pretext that the town was to the east of the Sama river. Peru, however, did not recognize this annexation on the grounds that the territory was completely unaffected by the Treaty of Ancón.[14][15][16][17][6] Around this time, raids by Peruvian smugglers as well as soldiers took place in the region,[18][19][20][21][22] and there were also rumours of war, including unfounded claims of Peru mobilizing troops against the Chilean border, which were denied on more than one occasion.[23][24][25] In 1921, however, Chile abolished the department, and in 1925, amid plebiscite-related protests,[26] gave back the city to Peru[27][28] under the mediation of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge, who enforced the limits agreed upon on the north, which did not include the city. Coolidge showed himself to be in favor of the Peruvian claims on several occasions during the duration of the dispute, more so than other heads of state.[29] Around the same time, a commission, headed by U.S. General John J. Pershing arrived to assist with the planned Tacna-Arica plebiscite, which eventually would never take place.[30][31] Francisco Tudela y Varela became involved in the issue during his time serving as foreign minister from 1917 to 1918.[6]

On April 23, 1921, measles in epidemic form was reported in the province, as well as neighboring Antofagasta, occurring among troops. At the same time, smallpox was reported present.[32][33]

Reincorporation to PeruEdit

Handover of Tacna
The unfinished Cathedral during the events
Date28 August 1928
Also known asReincorporation of Tacna to Peru
Participants  Chile

On June 3, 1929 the Treaty of Lima was signed by then Peruvian Representative Pedro José Rada y Gamio and Chilean Representative Emiliano Figueroa Larrain, leading to the effective return of Tacna to Peru at midnight, on the 28th of August 1929, creating the Department of Tacna, and Arica (both the former Peruvian Department as well as some territory of the Department of Tacna ceded by the treaty) was permanently given to Chile, being integrated into the Tarapacá Province, ending the existence of the Chilean Province of Tacna. Nevertheless, even with the border conflict officially over, controversy would continue among nationals of both Peru and Bolivia, who would continue her claims over her lost territories, seeking once again a connection to the ocean with the assistance of international mediators on the issue which is yet to be solved, and continues to this day.[5][15][34][35][36] The handover had no official ceremony, with some Chilean officials temporarily staying behind to assist Peru regarding the new administration. Nonetheless, the return of the territory was met with celebrations in Peru, with President Augusto B. Leguía overseeing a military parade in Lima, and church bells ringing in celebration. Some Chilean citizens, who had remained in the province after the handover asked to be repatriated.[37]


  • June 4: the news of the Treaty of Lima reach Tacna.
  • July 21: the withdrawal of Chilean citizens begins in Tacna, with most being headed towards nearby Arica.
  • July 28: The Treaty of Lima is promulgated in Chile.
  • July 28: The Húsares de Junín regiment leaves Tarata for Tacna under the command of Colonel Ricardo Luna and Commander Carlos Beytía.
Newspaper announcing the return of Tacna to Peru
  • August 1: the Peruvian government decrees the political and judicial organization of the Department of Tacna and allocates funds for it.[38]
  • August 6: the treaty for compliance is published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Chile.
  • August 14: The "Tacna Detachment" of the Civil Guard is formed in Lima with three companies under the command of Captains Guillermo Zavala Ituchetegui, Estanislao Matta Delfín and Justo Frías Zeballos.
  • August 21: The Mantaro transport ship departs from Callao with the entire Peruvian delegation that was going to receive Tacna, which includes policemen, teachers, officials and public employees of the Peruvian government. The newspaper La Patria appears in the city, edited by Raquel Delgado de Castro.
  • August 26: The Chilean newspaper El Pacífico stops circulation.
  • August 27: As the Peruvian delegation is set to arrive in Arica, journalists are waiting for them since the early hours of the morning. At noon the delegation arrives. The first to leave the ship are the members of the Peruvian commission led by Pedro José Rada and Gamio, who are received by Chilean representatives and Peruvians from Arica.

[...] but there were other faces, faces in which one could read the anguish as this arrival was not meant for them, this visit of redemption. Yes, our brothers from Arica.

— Correspondent of Lima-based newspaper La Prensa. August 27, 1929[39]

The Peruvian delegation boards the train in Arica and arrives in Tacna at 5pm, where they are received at the railway station with cheers for Tacna, Peru and Leguía. At 5:00 p.m., from Tarata, the Husares de Junín enter Tacna through Alto Lima street. At 11:00 p.m., the Tacna Civil Guard Detachment arrives at the El Escuadrón police station, where Captain Guillermo Zavala Ituchetegui receives them. At 1:00 a.m. on August 28, the last 5 Chilean policemen are relieved, who retire to a checkpoint in Caramolle and then leave for Arica.[40]

The flag of Peru flies over the Tacna Cathedral during the reincorporation.

The delegations from Peru and Chile meet in the city's courthouse, where the Commission in charge of the 1926 plebiscite was based. At 2:00 p.m., the Peruvian delegates, Pedro José Rada y Gamio, General José Ramón Pizarro, Arturo Núñez Chávez, Blondell, Ángel Gustavo Cornejo and Monsignor Mariano Holguín and the Chilean delegates, Gonzalo Robles and Alberto Serrano, who sign the Tacna Handover Act (Spanish: Acta de entrega de Tacna); the meeting ends at 3:00 p.m. At the same time, the policemen under the command of Captain Estanislao Matta Delfín began patrolling the city. After that act; Gathered in the Pasaje Vigil, Pedro José Rada y Gamio delivers a speech on the delivery of Tacna. The official delegation and the residents leave the Vigil passage in the direction of the Paseo Cívico.

Thousands of locals in the Paseo Cívico were eager to witness the arrival of the Chilean and Peruvian delegates, signatories of the Handover Act, and the hoisting of the Peruvian flag in the Prefecture. When the flagpole was found damaged, however, local Edgar Empson climbed the Tacna Cathedral to hoist it on its left tower. The band of the Húsares de Junín Cavalry Regiment of the Peruvian Army then proceeded to play the National Anthem of Peru. Monsignor Holguin also broadcast his speech, followed by the ringing of the Cathedral's bells. The parade continued with the participation of the Húsares de Junín, the Junín Guard and the police forces.[42]

At 5:00 p.m., the new mayor of Tacna, Armando Vargas Blondell, is sworn in. The president of the Court of Justice, Carlos A. Téllez, and the prefect, Federico Fernandini Muñoz, are also sworn in. The day ended with a dinner for the delegates and the new authorities.[40] Meanwhile, in Lima, military parades were held at the old Santa Beatriz Racetrack (today Campo de Marte) as part of the celebrations.[43]

  • In the days after the handover, 15 schools and 3 National Colleges were created.
  • On October 18, the Coronel Bolognesi football club was created.
  • During the government of Juan Velasco Alvarado, August 28 is declared "Civic Day".

Thus, on the last week of August, the festivities of Tacna are celebrated, starting on the 27th, with the Offering of Youth, followed on the 28th by the Tribute to the Woman from Tacna and finally a flag procession. It ends on August 30 with Saint Rose of Lima day.


Map of the Tacna Province made in 1895. Part of the "Geografía descriptiva de Chile" colection.

The Government of Chile pursued a policy of assimilation known as chileanization, which was met with local resistance, as well as criticism[44] from the Peruvian government, who withdrew their delegations in 1901, and, after re-establishing it in 1905, withdrew it again in 1910 as a response to the closure of Peruvian institutions as well as the expulsion of Peruvians "whose influence would contribute to the maintenance of the Peruvian national spirit."[6] It also appointed several intendants to the its Provinces, including Tacna. The intendants of Tacna were based in their headquarters in the city of Tacna and served under the title with the exception of Col. Arrate and Lt. Col. Beytía.[45]

List of intendants of TacnaEdit

Name Period
Manuel José Soffía 26 January 1884[a] - August 1886
Alejandro Fierro 1 December 1886 - 14 October 1888
Zenón Freire March 1890 - 12 November 1890
Guillermo Blest Gana 12 November 1890 - 2 April 1891
Col. Miguel Arrate 2 April 1891 - 6 April 1891
Ramón E. Vega April 1891 - September 1891
Liborio Manterola September 1891 - October 1891
Antonio Edwards October 1891 - 29 September 1894
Vicente Prieto Puelma January 1895 - 15 December 1897
Rafael Puelma 26 January 1898 - 28 February 1898
Lt. Col. David Beytía 28 February 1898 - 26 August 1898
Manuel Francisco Palacios 26 August 1898 - 13 September 1901
Antonio Subercaseaux 25 October 1901 - Jan 1904
Máximo R. Lira Jan 1904 - 31 December 1912
Eduardo Orrego Ovalle 21 April 1913 - 7 August 1918
Fernando Edwards G. 8 July 1918 - 24 February 1921
Luis Barceló Lira 24 February 1921 - ?

Administrative divisionsEdit

The Tacna Province was divided into the following departments, themselves divided into communes:

Department Commune Current Administrative Unit
Tarata Department Tarata   Tarata Province
Tacna Department Tacna   Tacna Province
Arica Department Arica   Arica Province

Notable peopleEdit

  • Salvador Allende and his family, who lived eight years in the city, from 1909 to 1916. Despite having been born in Santiago, Allende spent his childhood and youth in Tacna, having studied in the Liceo de Tacna.
  • Jorge Basadre, Peruvian historian known for his extensive publications about the independent history of his country.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Province of Tacna was created in October 1884, for which Soffia previously held the position as political chief and general commander of arms.


  1. ^ "Earthquake in Chili". Montreal Gazette. 27 December 1906.
  2. ^ a b "EARTHQUAKE IN CHILE". Boston Evening Transcript. 27 December 1908.
  3. ^ a b "CHILEAN TOWN SHAKEN". Easton Free Press. 27 December 1908.
  4. ^ Guía administrativa, industrial y comercial de las provincias de Tacna, Tarapacá y Antofagasta (in Spanish). Imprenta y Encuadernación "Chile". 1913. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b "DISPUTE SETTLED AFTER 50 YEARS". The Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. 22 February 1929.
  6. ^ a b c d "PERU AND CHILE CONTROVERSY EXPLAINED". The Gazette Times. Associated Press. 26 January 1919.
  7. ^ "TACNA-ARICA PLESBICITE". The Sunday Tribune. 9 March 1925.
  8. ^ "COOLIDGE PUTS CHILE-PERU DISPUTE UP TO VOTERS". Reading Eagle. 9 March 1925.
  9. ^ "CHILEANS WIN PERU DISPUTE". The Evening Independent. 9 March 1925.
  10. ^ "PERU WANTS HEARING". The Spokesman-Review. 3 February 1919.
  11. ^ "Peruanos y Chilenos". Diario del Hogar. 27 April 1907.
  12. ^ "Chile Wins Verdict In Old Dispute Over Provinces". The Telegraph-Herald. 9 March 1925.
  13. ^ "NO PEACE FOR PERU". The Morning Herald. 16 November 1882.
  14. ^ "PERU DEMANDS CHILE SETTLE PROVINCE DISPUTE". Providence News. 2 January 1922.
  15. ^ a b "Bolivian Bid Meets New Parley Rebuff". Newark Sunday Call. 21 May 1922. p. 1. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Peru Renews Demands That Chilean Issue Be Given to Arbitration". The Deseret News. 2 January 1922.
  17. ^ "PERU'S DETERMINED BID FOR A SLICE OF SHIPPING". Boston Evening Transcript. 11 November 1911.
  18. ^ "CHILE IS ANGRY". Mansfield Daily Shield. 21 March 1908.
  19. ^ "PERUVIANS INVADE CHILE.; Search Houses in Tacna Province After Pursuing Smugglers". The New York Times. 21 March 1908. p. 1. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Want Peru To Explain". The Pittsburgh Press. 21 March 1908.
  21. ^ "CHILEANS AFTER PERUVIANS". The Evening Independent. 21 March 1908.
  22. ^ "Ecos de Sud-América". Diario del Hogar. 22 March 1908.
  23. ^ "General News". The Free Lance. 20 December 1921.
  24. ^ "Opiniones de un General Chileno sobre la probabilidad de otra guerra con el Perú". El Tiempo. 2 June 1911.
  25. ^ "INFORMACION CABLEGRAFICA". El Tiempo. 28 November 1925.
  26. ^ Wiesse Regabligati, Ricardo (30 August 2014). "La marcha de las peruanas por Tacna y Arica". El Comercio.
  29. ^ "American Boundary Lines". Ottawa Citizen. 15 April 1925.
  30. ^ "CHILE TURNS OVER STATE". Youngstown Vindicator. 3 September 1925.
  31. ^ "Tacna-Arica People Must Determine Themselves Chileans or Peruvians". Schenectady Gazette. 10 March 1925.
  32. ^ Prevalence of Disease: Foreign and Insular. (1921). Public Health Reports (1896-1970), 36(24), 1420-1435. Retrieved August 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4576026
  33. ^ Volume Information. (1921). Public Health Reports, 36(25), III-XXXII. Retrieved August 19, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4576027
  34. ^ "Bolivia Wants Seaport Along Pacific Coast". Urbana Daily Democrat. 24 January 1919.
  35. ^ "Tacna-Arica". The Toledo News Bee. 25 February 1929.
  36. ^ "BOLIVIA NO ABANDONA SUS PRETENSIONES A UN PUERTO MARITIMO (Bolivia does not abandon its claims to a maritime port)". El Tiempo. 20 May 1929.
  37. ^ "Tacna Province Now Back in Peru's Hands". Schenectady Gazette. 31 August 1929.
  38. ^ Ley № 6630: Autorizando al Poder Ejecutivo para que proceda a la organización política y judicia del Departamento de Tacna y para abrir un crédito especial con ese objeto (PDF). Lima: Congress of Peru. 1929.
  39. ^ Cuya Vera, Ricardo (1 August 2017). "Reincorporación de Tacna al Perú: 28 de agosto de 1929". Memorias de Miguel Grau.
  40. ^ a b "Así fue la reincorporación de Tacna al Perú hace 89 años". RPP Noticias. 28 August 2018.
  41. ^ Plan Estratégico del Distrito de Locumba (PDF) (in Spanish). Locumba: Municipalidad de Locumba. 2013. p. 9. Luego de los resultados de la guerra con Chile y producto de ello la ocupación de la ciudad de Tacna con las nuevas autoridades invasoras, se suscita el acontecimiento mediante el acuerdo de ambos países y mediante Resolución Suprema del 10 de Enero de 1890 se designa al pueblo de Locumba, como capital provisional tanto a nivel provincial como su reconocimiento en lo departamental, llamándosele desde entonces Tacna Libre. Este periodo duró 40 años aproximadamente, y durante el mismo fue recinto de las autoridades políticas, militares y judiciales hasta el 26 de Agosto de 1929, en que Tacna es reincorporada al Perú según plebiscito y aceptando el desmembramiento del Puerto de Arica, pasando este a poder de territorio chileno.
  42. ^ Mendoza, Roberto (29 August 2017). "Reincorporación de Tacna al Perú". Con Nuestro Perú.
  43. ^ "A 86 años de la reincorporación de Tacna al Perú". El Comercio. 28 August 2015.
  45. ^ Varas, Carlos (1922). Tacna y Arica bajo la soberanía chilena. Santiago: Imp. de La Nación. p. 243-250