Discuss as:

Chile celebrates centenary of remarkable railway

Claudio Santana / Pool via EPA

An aerial picture shows part of the route of the Arica-La Paz railway during its centennial commemoration, in Chile on May 13, 2013.

One of the world's most remarkable railway lines celebrated its centenary on Monday. The 273-mile track traverses desert and mountain landscapes as it rises from sea-level in the Chilean port of Arica to a height of 13,800 feet en route to the Bolivian city of La Paz.

Claudio Santana / AFP - Getty Images

Inaugurated on May 13, 1913, the line has a colorful history and remains a source of controversy, according to a report by BBC News:

The railway was built by Chile to compensate Bolivia for its loss of land during the 1879-1883 War of the Pacific.

Chile won the war and annexed a swathe of Bolivian land roughly the size of Greece, leaving Bolivia landlocked.

The idea behind the railway was to give Bolivia access to the sea for its exports. It cost Chile £2.75m to build - around £195m ($300m) in today's money.

The Bolivians still demand sovereignty over at least a part of their former Pacific coastline, and last month took their case to the International Court in The Hague.

Claudio Santana / Pool via EPA

A conductor waits for passengers in Arica on May 13, 2013. Passenger services stopped running on the line in 1996, according to the BBC, but a special train ran to mark the railway's centenary.

Claudio Santana / Pool via EPA

Passengers ride on the Arica-La Paz railway during its centennial commemoration on May 13, 2013.

Claudio Santana / Pool via EPA

Passengers wait to board a train in Arica on May 13, 2013.

Claudio Santana / Pool via EPA