Bolivian & Paraguayan Navies????

Why do the two landlocked nations of Bolivia and Paraguay still have navies?

According to this site, in the case of Bolivia it’s due to national pride, after having lost its former seacoast in a war. The Bolivian Navy patrols mostly on Lake Titicaca and on rivers.

Paraguay’s navy consists primarily of river patrol boats. Again, it’s probably a matter of national pride to refer to it as a “navy” instead of a “river patrol.”

The Parana and Paraguay Rivers remain major arteries of trade, and parts of both are shared with adjacent nations, with which Paraguay is not always on the best of terms (cf the Chaco War).

Apropos of this, one of the most ludicrous stories consists of a U.S. Navy patrol boat on the upper Parana being attacked, back around the turn of the century, by Paraguayan cavalry. This sounds very much like an urban legend, but I’m convinced of its factuality – it’s too ridiculous to be made up!

Colour illustrations of Bolivia’s and Paraguay’s Navy insignia of rank can be found on the Rank Insignia of the World website at

This is interesting to me, because I’ve been underway on the ships of many South American navies.

These include the naval forces of Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia.

I never got to ride the ships of the Bolivian or Paraguayan navies. My participation in the Unitas exercises of 1996 were in the blue water portions only.

When crossing Lake Titicaca, if travelling by bus, you briefly become the charge of the Bolivian Navy.

The bus gets loaded onto a barge that seems not more than 6" larger than the bus on any side. Oh yeah, and the weight of the bus makes the barge ride really low in the water.

You get to witness this precarious journey from the relative safety of a Bolivian naval vessel. You and your bus will be happily reunited on the opposite shore.

They actually have a rule, forbidding the bus and the passengers from travelling together on the same barge.

My spanish being limited, I didn’t ask too many questions, but I got the impression that there was more than one bus on the bottom of lake Titicaca.

(My very first Straight Dope question: Why does Bolivia have a Navy? and Why does Maccu have two 'c’s but Pichu only one?)

Huh-huh. Titicaca.