Courtesy Reuters

The Chaco Dispute Between Bolivia and Paraguay

AS in the case of Tacna-Arica, the intrinsic value of the area in dispute between Bolivia and Paraguay is not commensurate with the persistence of the controversy or the bitterness of feeling which it has engendered on both sides.

The Chaco Boreal, or that part of the Gran Chaco involved in the quarrel, is still a little-known wilderness, with serious defects as a field for either agriculture or stock raising. Its surface is a vast plain, with a slope to the east so imperceptible that one of the most serious obstacles to its development is the lack of natural drainage. This condition is aggravated by an impermeable sub-soil, which, combined with the circumstance of heavy seasonal rains, turns much of the country into a morass for a considerable period each year. The few sluggish streams have not sufficient fall to carry off the water which spreads a continuous sheet over wide areas of the country. At this season, though the pasturage is luxuriant the herds of stock often are unable to find a place to lie down on the immersed savannahs, and for the human inhabitants the season is particularly trying. On the other hand, during the dry months the grazing lands may not afford sufficient feeding for the herds, unless they are distributed over a wider range than is necessary during the wet season, when the tall grasses rise well above the layer of surface water. Moreover, during the dry season there may be an actual dearth of good drinking water; not only is water scarce then, but much of it is salty or brackish. The outstanding feature of the Chaco landscape is the large extent of open grass country. The continuity of these prairie lands is broken at frequent intervals by islands of heavy tropical jungle or clumps of palm trees. The Chaco forest contains a number of useful hardwoods, including the red quebracho, lapacho and lignum vitae.

A number of Indian tribes of a very low cultural state

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