The prosperity of Chile is intimately connected with her ocean-going trade, and no elaborate system of national railway lines and domestic manufactures can ever change this relationship. These conditions should have developed a large merchant marine, but the Chileans are not traders and are sailors only in a military sense.
An exception formerly existed at Puerto Acre, on the Acre river, to which ocean-going steamers could ascend from Para, but Brazil first closed the Purus and Acre rivers to foreign vessels seeking this port, and then under a treaty of 1903 acquired possession of the port and adjacent territory.
There are other small towns on the coast which are ports for the small vessels engaged in the coasting and river trade, but they have no international importance because of their inaccessibility to ocean-going steamers, or the extremely small volume of their trade.
The colony, as its name implies, derives its character and value from the river Gambia (q.v.), which is navigable throughout and beyond the limits of the colony, while large ocean-going ships can always cross the bar at its mouth and enter the port of Bathurst.
At the beginning of the 10th century most of the ocean-going steamers were owned in Germany or the United States; British enterprise being chiefly represented by schooners trading from Jamaica to Bluefields and Greytown.