Landlocked Countries in South America

| |

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.

How Many Landlocked Countries Does South America Have?

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.

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.

Largest Landlocked Country in South America

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.  

South America’s Second Landlocked Country

Paraguay is 406,752 sq. km. (157,048 sq. mi.) is the 60th largest country in the world.

Bolivia and Paraguay are the Only Landlocked Countries Outside of Afro-Eurasia

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.

View of La Paz, Bolivia.
La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia, is the world’s highest capital city (3,660 m; 12,005 ft). Photo: CIA, public domain

How Bolivia Became a Landlocked Country

Bolivia once had a coastline along the Pacific Ocean but lost its coastline territory to Chile during the War of the Pacific.  That war (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.  

Despite Being Landlocked, Bolivia Still Has a Navy

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 of the War of the Pacific. Map showing Bolivia and Peru’s pre-war borders (shaded colors) and current borders (black line). Map: Keysanger, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0

Landlocked Paraguay Also Maintains a Navy

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

See Also

Share:


Enter your email to receive the Geography Realm newsletter: